Maria Sakkari has survived a bloodbath of star seeds in the quarter-finals of the Kremlin Cup, moving into the last four with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of former winner Simona Halep.
The Greek held off a late surge from the Romanian, who broke back twice from 5-1 down in the second set.
The rest of the top four seeds were all beaten on Friday leaving the Greek world No.7 clear favourite for the event.
Sakkari will now play Russian world No.37 Ekaterina Alexandrova who beat No.2 ranked Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-4. It was the Belarusian’s first tournament after testing positive for Covid-19.
Sabalenka was playing in her first event since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last month. She then missed the tournament in Indian Wells, California, following a positive test for Covid-19.
Top-seeded Sabalenka’s exit was followed by that of No.2 seed Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard was beaten 6-1, 6-1 by Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia. The two-time Grand Slam champion lost three consecutive service games at the end of the first set and start of the second.
Kontaveit is into her fifth semifinal of the year as she seeks to win a third title in as many months after winning the Cleveland tournament in August and Ostrava in September.
Kontaveit now meets Marketa Vondrousova who upset fourth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-2.