In the women’s draw, Simona Halep moved closer to reclaiming her world number one crown after a well-executed 6-4 7-5 triumph over China’s Wang Qiang.

Following Petra Kvitova’s exit on Tuesday, Halep needs only to reach Saturday’s final to knock Naomi Osaka off the top of women’s tennis after being deposed following the Japanese’s second major win at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Halep will try to reach her first South Florida final and reclaim the top spot by defeating world No 5 Karolina Pliskova in the semi-final.

The former world No 1 won the battle of the Czechs with Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 6-4.

“The first set was very close, she played well but I just tried to be more aggressive, “ said Pliskova after reaching her third semi-final of 2019.

“A match against Simona is always intense.”

On Halep’s part, she staged a fantastic recovery from 1-5 down in the second set showed a mental toughness displayed by only the very best.

“I started well and played some smart tennis but in the second set, she started to raise her game,” Halep said. “My coach said I was rushing a bit so I managed to calm down. That was great advice.”

Halep converted seven of eight break points and hit 24 winners compared to 14 from Wang, whose first serve percentage dipped to 47%.

Wang was aiming for her own slice of history, knowing landing the title would have made her the first Chinese woman in the top 10 since Li Na retired at the end of 2014. She responded strongly in her first Miami quarter-final after falling behind.

The world No 18 was all over the Halep service game, which had showed signs of weakness early on, returning with real aggression to establish a 5-1 lead – a run that saw her win 12 points in a row.

Halep managed to regain composure and broke for 5-2 as Wang started to get nervous. The reigning French Open champion broke again and suddenly had the chance to draw level in the second set.

That chance looked lost as Wang stormed 0-40 up on the Romanian’s serve, but Halep superbly saved all three sets points before a brilliant running forehand winner down the line to equalize 5-5.

Another break gave her the platform to serve for the match, which was sealed when Wang hit long.

With AFP inputs