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Beaten Halep reflects on cruel turning point

LONDON (Reuters) - Simona Halep was left to reflect on what might have been after the cruelest of netcords sapped her spirit and turned her Wimbledon semi-final against Canadian Eugenie Bouchard upside down on Thursday.

After an explosive start, in which the pair flung each other around Center Court with some brutal groundstrokes, third seed Halep looked poised to take the set from 4-2 up in the tiebreak.

But after a short delay to allow medics to come to the aid of a sick spectator, Halep fell victim to that untimely netcord and resurgent 13th seed Bouchard clawed her way back to win 7-6(5) 6-2.

"I served really well at 3-2, but then there was a lucky ball when she hit the net at 4-2," Halep told reporters. "I think it was an important moment at that point. I lost my concentration a little bit.

"I played until the end, but in the second set I lost my energy and I couldn't believe any more that I could finish the match in the right way."

The powerful duo shared some punishing exchanges until Halep, the first Romanian woman to reach the semi-finals at the All England Club, rolled her ankle in the fourth game and required treatment from the trainer.

Though able to continue, the fear of aggravating the injury rattled the 22-year-old's composure.

"I felt a big pain, but then it was better with the tape," she said. "It is hard to stay focused, to play every point, because you are a little bit afraid after injury.

"But I couldn't push anymore in my leg. My first serve was really bad after that."

Having lost to Maria Sharapova in the French Open final last month, Halep was aiming to become the first woman since Justine Helen in 2006 to reach the singles finals at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

With that target gone, Halep is now looking forward to some rest and relaxation before next month's U.S. Open.

"After the French Open there was a really short time to recover," she said.

"But I'm really happy that I could play a semi-final here. It's my best result at Wimbledon. With a week's holiday I will be 100 percent again."

(Reporting By Michael Hann; Editing by David Goodman)

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