Bencic ends Halep's Dubai dreams

Simona Halep took the first set against Belinda Bencic but could not get the job done as the Swiss battled back to triumph.

Belinda Bencic celebrates during her win against Simona Halep on Thursday.   -  Getty Images

Comeback queen Belinda Bencic delivered more drama at the Dubai Tennis Championships as she overcame Simona Halep in three sets to reach the semifinals.

Bencic saved six match points in her thrilling win over Aryna Sabalenka to set up her last-eight showdown with world number two Halep.

And the Swiss again did things the hard way on Thursday, coming from behind to triumph 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The contest looked to be going to the form book when Doha finalist Halep – who had not dropped a set this week – took the opening set despite dropping serve in the very first game.

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Indeed, Halep made life more difficult for herself by failing to serve it out at 5-3, instead wrapping up the set with a break in the next game.

The start of the second set followed that theme – Halep dropping serve only to immediately hit back.

But momentum shifted decisively in Bencic's favour as she went on the offensive to break for a 5-4 lead and then held to 15 to level matters.

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Remarkably, Halep lost her serve in the opening game of a third set in which she trailed 3-0 before a break to love stopped the rot.

Bencic survived three break points when serving for the match as the world number 45 moved a step closer to a third WTA Tour title.