Halep into Italian Open semi-finals

Rome (AFP) –

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Top seed Simona Halep took the first semi-final berth at the Italian Open on Saturday when Kazakh rival Yulia Putintseva retired during their match on Saturday.

The world number two was leading 6-2, 2-0 in the quarter-final clash on clay in Rome when Putintseva signalled that she was retiring after 45 minutes of play with a lower back injury.

Putintseva, ranked 30, had reached the quarter-finals of the recent hard court US Open, a tournament which Halep skipped because of coronavirus concerns.

Halep next meets either Belarussian Victoria Arazenka or Spaniard Garbine Muguruza for a place in the final of the clay-court tournament.

It is the fifth time that former French Open champion Halep has reached the last four in Rome.

The Wimbledon champion was runner-up to Elina Svitolina in 2017 and 2018 finals.

Matches from Sunday's semi-finals will be played in front of 1,000 spectators with the action up to now in front of empty stands at the Foro Italico.