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Halep back to semifinals in Wimbledon return

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) – In a roundabout way, Simona Halep is finally getting a chance to defend her Wimbledon title.

And she’s picking up right where she left off.

Halep won the title at the grass-court Grand Slam in 2019, but she missed a chance to play as reigning champion because the tournament was cancelled amid the pandemic. She then missed a second chance last year because of an injured left calf.

“That was the perfect match of my life,” Halep said of her straight-set victory over Serena Williams three years ago. “Now I’m playing really well. I’m feeling confident that I feel the game the way I felt back then.”

The 16th-seeded Halep extended her winning streak at the All England Club to 12 matches and reached the semifinals for the third time by beating Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday on Centre Court.

In the semifinals Halep will face Elena Rybakina in the second match of the day.

The 17th-seeded Rybakina defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Number One Court in the day’s other quarterfinal match. Halep is making her 10th appearance at Wimbledon. She is the only Grand Slam champion left in the women’s tournament, winning the French Open in 2018 before taking the title at the All England Club the next year.

“I’m different. I play different. I play well now,” Halep said.

“I think every match I got a little bit better. I had tough opponents, and I did what I had to do every day.”

The match against Anisimova appeared to be as straightforward as her first four victories at this year’s tournament – all came in straight sets.

But the 20th-seeded American broke Halep when she was serving for the match at 5-2.

Anisimova had three more break points when Halep again served for the match at 5-4, but the Romanian won five straight points to finish the match.

Simona Halep returns to Amanda Anisimova in the Wimbledon tennis championships in London. PHOTO: AP