Johanna Konta is out of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati after losing her quarter-final against second seed Simona Halep 6-4 7-6 (7-1) on Friday night.
Seventh seed Konta, who beat Halep in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in July, did not go quietly, saving a series of match points in an enthralling battle that lasted nearly two hours.
Britain’s No 1 had not lost to the Romanian in three previous meetings and started the match in fine style with several stunning winners, including one on break point, to secure the first break for a 2-1 lead.
Her opponent, though, began to find her range with her ground-strokes and immediately broke back and held in two tough games for a 3-2 advantage.
The Romanian was cruising at 5-2 but Konta dug in and broke again, only to lose the opening set with a handful of unforced errors.
After an exchange of breaks to open the second set, Halep edged 3-1 ahead and a quick hold meant she had won four games in a row to appear in complete control – especially with a double match point at 5-3.
But the second seed buckled briefly and could’t even take advantage when 40-0 up at 6-5 as Konta took the pulsating second set to a tie-breaker.
But it wasn’t to be as Halep stayed cool before flying through to take the second and match and set up a semi-final with American Sloane Stephens, who beat Germany’s Julia Goerges 6-1 7-6 (7-3).
“I played the best match so far this tournament,” Halep said. “I could hit the ball. I could move well.
“I feel the rhythm. It’s back, so I’m positive again. I’m on it again. I feel good, and I feel thankful with the way I played. It was really good.”
Garbine Muguruza, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 5-7 7-5, will play top seed Karolina Pliskova in the other top-four showdown after easing past Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4.