Romanian top seed Simona Halep advanced to the WTA Prague Open final after beating her compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets on Saturday.

Halep won 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in an hour and a half to set up a final clash against 23rd-ranked Belgian Elise Mertens, who beat Czech Kristyna Pliskova 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) in the other semi-final on Saturday.

World number two and reigning Wimbledon champion Halep took a while to warm up against the 82nd-ranked Begu who had played her quarter-final match – a three-setter – earlier Saturday morning.

After a two-hour break, Begu was back on court and took a 5-3 lead in the first set as Halep struggled for pace. Halep drew level and Begu then took a medical break to receive treatment for calluses on the palm of her right hand.

Halep won the set in tie-break, but Begu kept fighting in the second before Halep finally prevailed.

Halep said the medical break had helped her as Begu “was playing really well at that point and she was kind of dominating the match”.

“I didn’t play my best tennis but... probably she was a little bit more tired than me in the second set,” Halep told Czech television.

The tournament is being played behind closed doors due to Covid-19 and the players have to wear face masks any time they are not playing, training or eating