Emma Raducanu a win away from ‘idol’ clash as Simona Halep wins Transylvania quarter-final

Wimbledon: Simona Halep reacts to winning the women's singles

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Emma Raducanu’s idol Simona Halep awaits in the Transylvania Open semi-final. The Romanian needed just 68 minutes to overcome compatriot Jaqueline Cristian 6-1 6-1 and book her place in the last-four. She will face the winner of a match between the US Open champion and Marta Kostyuk, with a place in the final on the line. Raducanu came within one match of meeting her role model earlier this month in Indian Wells, but lost to the world No 100.

The home hero started off strong, shaking off any concerns about a back injury she appeared to sustain in her previous match.

Halep raced to a 3-0 lead after breaking Cristian during her first return game of the match and had break points to go up 4-0, but the wildcard managed to fend her off and get herself on the scoreboard.

Cristian seemed to settle into the match after holding serve, as she forced Halep to save two break points in a ten-minute game, but the world No 18 held on and failed to drop a game for the rest of the set, closing it out 6-1 in 33 minutes.

The 2018 Roland Garros champion’s momentum continued into the second set, as she broke the 23-year-old’s serve in the third game.

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She then went up a double-break, leading Cristian by 4-1 after just over an hour, and continued her dominant performance, failing to lose another game as she closed out the victory 6-1 6-1.

The world No 105, who upset fifth seed Ajla Tomljanovic in the previous round, was competing in her home country with a wildcard, but was no match for Romania’s top-ranked star Halep, who won 81% of her first serve points and 58% on her second serve, compared to Cristian’s 59% and 24%.

The 30-year-old will now face the winner of a match between teenagers Emma Raducanu and Marta Kostyuk for a place in Sunday’s (October 31) final.

Raducanu has long heralded the two-time Grand Slam champion as her “idol” and admitted she would find it a “real test” to face Halep in the semi-final.

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Speaking after her third-round win over Ana Bogdan on Thursday (October 28), the US Open champion said: “It’s very far ahead, but playing Simona would be amazing. It would be a real test to see where I am against a true champion.

“She is one of my idols, just watching her play here is a great experience for me.”

The pair had come within one match of facing off in Indian Wells earlier this month, but Raducanu lost to world No 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich, as a meeting with her idol was on the line.

After Halep won her second-round in California, awaiting the winner of Raducanu and Sasnovich’s match, she admitted the 18-year-old would have been the “favourite” if they played, but relished the opportunity to play the most recent Grand Slam champion so soon after her US Open win.

“Of course it’s going to be a big challenge [if we play] because she has a lot of confidence, she’s kind of [the] favourite for the next match if we play.

“I’m happy that I will have the chance to play with US Open champion so fast, the next tournament after that Grand Slam,” she said at the time, though may now get to play Raducanu in just her second match after winning in Flushing Meadows.

The former Wimbledon champion had picked up a back injury during her third-round win over world No 81 Varvara Gracheva, requiring a medical time out en route to a 6-4 6-2 win over the Russian.

Speaking after the match, Halep revealed the issue impaired her movement but said she was “used to pain” and didn’t want to retire.

“My back got blocked, the pain is really big, I can’t bend or move too much. But I am used to pain, I’ve had this before, I wanted to continue and finish this match. It’s good I won, I don’t know how, but it’s a good victory,” she explained during her on-court interview on Thursday (October 28).
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