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Simona Halep ended qualifier Anett Kontaveit’s run at the Italian Open in Rome with a straight sets win to reach the semi-finals.

Sixth seed Halep’s clay court brilliance secured her a 6-2 6-4 victory against Kontaveit and the Romanian will now meet Holland’s Kiki Bertens in the last four.

Estonia’s Kontaveit, who dispatched world number one Angelique Kerber and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni earlier in the tournament, made too many errors against in-form Halep, who secured victory on her third match point in one hour and 20 minutes.

Bertens, the 15th seed, was also in fine form and halted the progress of another qualifier, Daria Gavrilova, with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win to reach her first semi-final of the year.

Australian world number 33 Gavrilova was forced to play through the qualifying rounds after she forgot to sign up for the tournament.

All but one of her five previous matches had gone to three sets and she ran out of steam against Bertens, who was in top form on her favourite surface to progress in one hour and 27 minutes.

Elina Svitolina caused an upset as she won through to her first semi-final in Rome with a convincing 6-3 7-6 (9/7) victory over second seed Karolina Pliskova.

Eighth seed Svitolina had lost all four of her previous matches against the Czech Republic’s Pliskova, including the semi-finals in Brisbane earlier this year, but held her nerve in a tense second set tie-break to seal victory.

Svitolina will face third seed Garbine Muguruza in the last four after the Spaniard overcame Venus Williams in a hard-fought 6-2 3-6 6-2 win.

Muguruza, who will climb back into the world’s top five when the new rankings are released on Monday, won the first four matches and comfortably took the opening set.

Williams saved five breaks points in the second before seizing her only chance to take the match into a decider, but Muguruza recovered her composure to see off the American veteran in an hour and 46 minutes.