Kerber and Wozniacki reach Dubai Championships semifinals

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns the ball to Catherine Bellis of the U.S. during a quarter final match of the Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Top-seeded Angelique Kerber journeyed to her first Dubai Tennis Championships semifinals, while Caroline Wozniacki reached her sixth semi at the tournament on Thursday.

Kerber, who is two match wins away from returning to the No. 1 ranking, beat Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Kerber raced to 4-0, and won the remaining games from 2-2 in the second set.

She will play seventh-seeded Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian improved her career record against Lauren Davis to 4-0 after defeating the American 6-0, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

Kerber leads Svitolina 5-4 in career meetings, but Svitolina has won their last two matches, including at Brisbane last month.

”She won like the important moments in Brisbane,” Kerber said. ”So I will just trying to take the positive things from the match. I will talk to my coach, and go out there tomorrow and take the new challenge.”

Wozniacki, who won the Dubai title in 2011, defeated Catherine ”Cici” Bellis 6-3, 6-2.

Wozniacki reached the Doha final last week, losing the title to Karolina Pliskova. She’s played nine matches in the last nine days.

Bellis, the youngest player in the draw at 17, scored the biggest win of her six-month-old pro career on Wednesday when she upset her first top-10 player, sixth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

The American started the match confidently, jumping out to 3-1, but couldn’t sustain the momentum.

”It was really fun for me to see what the highest level is (like),” Bellis said.

In a fight strictly from the baseline, Wozniacki won the next nine games to lead 6-3, 4-0.

”I stepped into the court a little bit after being down 3-1 and just tried to keep the pressure on her, make her think a little bit, not give her too many free points,” said Wozniacki, who had her upper left leg wrapped.

She will play Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the semifinals. The 35th-ranked Sevastova reached her first semifinal of the season via a 6-4, 7-5 win over Wang Qiang of China.

”She’s a player that mixes the pace up quite a bit,” Wozniacki said of Sevastova. ”She’s definitely going to try and get me out of my own rhythm.”