In a remarkable span of eight days, Coco Gauff scored victories against three of the game’s very best: four-time major winner Naomi Osaka, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka, who a year ago reached back-to-back Grand Slam semifinals.

And yet, going into her quarterfinal match with Simona Halep at the National Bank Open in Toronto, the 18-year-old was wary -- and eerily prescient.

“I think I definitely have to be mentally engaged the whole match,” Gauff told reporters. “I mean, I had to the last three matches. But even more so against Simona, because she’s just a tough player. You can’t give her anything because she will take it.”

Friday's results:

For the fourth time in four tries, the No.15-seeded Halep took down Gauff in straight sets. It was another strong win by Halep, who outmaneuvered Gauff with speed and finesse, angles and changing tempos and, in some critical moments, a splash of power.

Halep was the only major winner left among the quarterfinalists. Her reward is a Saturday semifinal matchup (1 p.m. ET) with No.7 seed Jessica Pegula, who was a 6-3, 6-3 winner against Yulia Putintseva.

After her win against Gauff, Halep immediately headed for the practice courts. While she broke Gauff’s serve six times, she was broken five times herself. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was not happy.

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“Patrick told me that I need to practice a little bit more,” Halep told reporters afterward. “My serve was not great today. Yeah, I did it because I felt that it’s a good idea. And it went very well in the practice. So tomorrow hopefully it’s going to go well in the match as well.”

After struggling through the worst year of her professional life, Halep is again in full flight. Mouratoglou, who joined her support team earlier this spring, is one of the big reasons.

“Before I met him I was super down with my motivation,” Halep said. “And like I couldn’t really work, keep working. And I was almost done with tennis. So he brought this fire back and the motivation. He trusted that I still can play good tennis. And he transferred this to me.”

Halep is 36-10 for the season. Only World No.1 Iga Swiatek (49) and Ons Jabeur (37) have won more. Only Swiatek has won more in straight sets, and it’s close, 37-32.

Halep heads into Saturday’s match with enormous confidence and an uncanny knack for these WTA 1000 events. Since 2009, she has more WTA 1000 victories than any other player, 183, and reached more semifinals (29) -- three more than second-place Serena Williams.

“I always say that I’m working hard,” Halep said. “And I think this is the main reason that I can play good matches. Physically I’m good. Mentally I’m good. So I think it’s all positive.

Halep won this Canadian event in 2018, when it was in Montreal.

“It’s going to be a big challenge to face a new opponent,” Halep said. “It’s always like that. But it’s going to be semifinal. So for sure she’s going to play good tennis. She’s solid. She’s in the top already. She has, she had a really good year. And last year, too. But as I always say, I will focus on myself and I will just fight for the match as I did here every time.”

Pegula, who saved a match point in the third round against Camila Giorgi, has now reached the semifinals in Canada in each of her two tries.

Pegula was in line to play the Romanian last year in Cincinnati but Halep pulled out with a thigh injury.

“I was kind of bummed, because I really did want to play her,” Pegula said. “Practiced with her maybe once like a long time ago. So there’s definitely some unfamiliarity there. It will be interesting. I’m sure we’ll kind of be feeling each other out.”

Halep and Pegula -- the top-seeded player left -- have never played before.

No. 14 Karolina Pliskova versus Beatriz Haddad Maia

With an ace down the middle, Haddad Maia blasted her way into this semifinal, completing a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over No.12 seed Belinda Bencic.

It’s been a breakout season for the 26-year-old lefty from Brazil, who tore up the grass season with titles in Nottingham and Birmingham -- the first of her career. Haddad Maia is the first Brazilian player to reach a WTA 1000 semifinal and the degree of difficulty has been impressive.

She’s knocked off, in order, US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, World No.1 Iga Swiatek and reigning Olympic gold medalist Bencic.

It’s been a long journey for Haddad Maia.

“I had a lot of tough moments in my career,” she said. “I have already four surgeries. So when I have special moments I try to enjoy. Because sometimes we think, 'Oh, no, I’m not that happy.’ I’m not that. I don’t think about winning. But the truth is that I work for like 15 years to live this moment, to live this dream.”

Next up: Pliskova, who scrambled to defeat 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Pliskova has 34 aces so far, best in the field. This is Pliskova’s first hard-court semifinal since last year’s Cincinnati tournament.