Angelique Kerber is enjoying a new lease of life in 2018 and spoke of her regained confidence after defeating Karolina Pliskova at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
The German produced a fine display in their last-eight meeting on Thursday, losing just eight points on her first serve en route to a 6-4 6-3 success and a third semi-final in four outings this year.
Having enjoyed a stellar 2016 which yielded Australian and US Open glory, Kerber endured a torrid 2017, failing to go beyond the fourth round at any slam while losing her only WTA Tour final to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Monterrey Open.
It has been a different story this season, however, Kerber following up her Sydney International victory with a run to the last four of the Australian Open, and the world number nine has another semi-final to look forward to on Friday.
"I have much more confidence than when I started the year, when I had no idea where I am," said Kerber, who will face Elina Svitolina after the defending champion's 6-2 6-4 win over Naomi Osaka.
"I already have so many matches under my belt so that gives me more match confidence. It's a new year completely, a fresh start for me. I'm stronger mentally, I know what to expect. I can get through good and bad things and I'm still here.
"I had five or six years in the top 10, I had my best year in 2016 but I had great years before [as well]. You have to go through it and have to learn about things. Every player has to go her own way and learn about tough losses and come back."
The other semi-final will see Garbine Muguruza, who overcame Caroline Garcia 7-5 6-2, face Daria Kasatkina, a 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 winner over Elena Vesnina.
At the Hungarian Ladies Open, Mona Barthel dumped out defending champion Timea Babos 6-4 4-6 6-3 to set up a quarter-final meeting with Ysaline Bonaventure, who knocked out eighth seed Donna Vekic 6-4 6-1.
There were also wins for Dominika Cibulkova, Johanna Larsson and Shuai Zhang.
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