Simona Halep overcame a second-set lapse to secure a 6-4 7-5 Miami Open quarter-final victory over China’s Wang Qiang on Wednesday that put the Romanian one win away from reclaiming the world’s top ranking.
Second seed Halep stormed back from 5-1 down in the second set and saved three set points before wrapping up the win over 18th-seeded Wang in 89 minutes.
Halep started strongly and broke Wang three times to race into a 4-1 lead before closing out the first set when she cut off the angle on a short forehand and blasted a winner into the open court.
But Wang came out firing in the second set, breaking Halep three times and holding to love in back-to-back service games to build a 5-1 lead.
Wang nearly forced a decisive third set as she threatened to break Halep again when she quickly jumped out to 0-40 in the 10th game but the Romanian displayed confident net play to get out of the jam.
Halep matched her best result in Miami, which came in 2015 when she lost to Serena Williams in the semis.
“Playing again in the semi-finals is going to be a big challenge. And maybe I can do my best result here and play in the final,” Halep said in an on-court interview. “It’s going to be a big match in the next round.”
Up next for Halep will be the winner of the all-Czech quarter-final between fifth seed Karolina Pliskova and Marketa Vondrousova which kicks off the evening session at 7:00 p.m. ET (2300 GMT).
Halep, the highest seed left in the draw following Naomi Osaka’s third-round exit, said that while she is aware of her chance to reclaim top spot in the rankings that is not on her mind.
“If I play well, if I play my best tennis, I have a better chance to become number one again,” said Halep. “But it’s not in my mind. I just want to find my rhythm, to find my level and just play as good as possible.”