By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fifth-seeded Simona Halep beat 11th-seeded Spanish rival Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 7-5 on Monday to reach the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Monday.
The 24-year-old Romanian was broken serving for the match at 5-4 but she broke right back, and after falling behind 0-30 in the 12th game swept the last four points in a row to end it.
Halep, who reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows last year, edged ahead in her rivalry with Suarez Navarro, now leading their head-to-head series 6-5.
“I’m really happy I could win this match. It’s really tough to beat her. I just gave everything I had,” Halep said in an on-court interview.
The in-form Halep, a three-times winner this year who owns a 23-3 record dating back to start of French Open, will play either top-seeded Serena Williams or unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in the quarters.
The Romanian is bracing for a probable showdown with world number one Williams.
“The next round will be a very tough one, so I want to enjoy this victory today,” said Halep.
Halep, winner at Madrid, Bucharest and Montreal to raise her career total to 14, said she is playing better than ever and learning to control her temper, despite tossing her racket in frustration during the match against Suarez Navarro.
“My game now I feel is the best that I had ever, because I feel strong,” she told reporters. “I feel that I can control every tactic during the match. I can change. I’m able to change the tactic when I need.
“I feel strong mentally, even if I have some bad moments during the matches. I feel that I play for every ball, so that means that I’m focused and I really want to win and I’m fighting.”
Halep is still dreaming about adding a grand slam title to her resume, coming close at the 2014 French Open where she lost in the final to Maria Sharapova.
“I’m working hard to reach that title, to make that dream come true,” the Romanian said.
“So I’m just working, dreaming at it, and if it’s gonna happen one day, I will be very happy.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue)