Halep, the No. 3 seed, broke Pliskova in the third game of the opening set to take an early 2-1 lead.
Lleyton Hewitt (2001 US Open), the youngest man to snare the season-ending world No 1, and Andre Agassi (2003 Australian Open), the oldest to reach No 1, excelled under Cahill. But I'm confident, as well. I didn't give up. The match was good: She played well, then I played better. Halep has won 11 of her last 12 matches on clay court.
The two players then each held serve for the remainder of the first set before Halep was able to close out the first set 6-4.
Trailing by a set and two breaks in the French Open quarter-finals, just one game from defeat, Simona Halep was not exactly full of positive thoughts during a changeover before her opponent tried to serve out the victory.
"There can not be something bigger than to play for being world No. 1", Pliskova said, per Rothenberg. "I think that's what made these matches more special". "That helped me win today".
Pliskova refused to go down without a fight and broke back to trail 4-3 with yet more strong hitting, but Halep was on a mission and regained her advantage courtesy of another stray forehand from the Czech before serving out the match. But I'm confident as well.
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The third-seeded Halep said the key to the victory over Svitolina was her determination to keep fighting when the match looked lost.
Ostapenko and Halep have never faced off.
A few hours later she had her answer as Ostapenko, the youngest, lowest-ranked and least experienced of the quartet produced a fearless performance to beat Bacsinszky in three absorbing sets - belting 50 winners in the process.
In her six matches so far at this year's French Open, Ostapenko has crunched 245 winners.
"She's a big hitter", said Bacsinszky, who also lost in the 2015 French Open semifinals. She is not one to back down. She fended off another set point in the next game but a forehand error handed Halep the set.
Bacsinszky received treatment on her right knee and consulted with the tournament doctor.
Halep reunited with Cahill in Madrid after the Adelaide mentor walked away following her mid-match emotion in Miami. Pliskova is the more aggressive player who likes to attack the net and win points with decisive shots. Svitolina said she felt the nerves during the contest. "That's it. It's over", Halep said afterwards. "I think she has a big chance now to win the final, she's going to deserve it".
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