LONDON, Great Britain - 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Simona Halep survived a tight three-set affair with No.9 seed Madison Keys to win, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, to book a quarterfinal encounter with reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.
"I expected a really, really tough one because I know her pretty well, and I know that she's very strong," Halep said in her post-match press conference. "She hits the ball with a lot of power, and the serve is huge.
"So I tried just to make my game. My plan that I had before the match I think it was really, really good. The most important thing was that I stayed there, I kept my concentration till the end, and I was fighting."
Quarterfinalist at last year's Championships, Keys has come into her own since the start of the European swing, reaching her biggest career final at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia and becoming the first American to debut inside the Top 10 since Serena Williams in 1999.
Halep, by contrast, had truncated her grass court preparation due to a lingering Achilles injury - pulling out of the Aegon Classic, which Keys went on to win - looked sharp through her first three matches and appeared on course for a one-set lead on Court No.1 when she broke the young American behind a scintillating lob.
But Keys wouldn't go down without a fight, saving four set points and breaking the Romanian in her two attempts to serve things out, eventually racing out to a 6-3 lead in the ensuing tie-break before running away with the set.
"I was a little bit nervous at 40-15. I did two double faults in one game. Was tough, but I take only the positive. I stayed more on court. I feel the ball better now. Yeah, I'm happy that I could win."
The former World No.2 flirted with a second set fade as Keys promptly earned a 2-0 lead, but Halep dug her heels in from there, breaking serve twice more to level the match, serving out her spot in the quarterfinals on her first match point.
"In my attitude something has changed. I improved a lot in the last period. But grass always was a good surface for me. I played well in 2014. I have great memories from here, and I'm just trying to improve my game on every surface."
Up next for Halep is Kerber, whom she leads 3-1 in their overall head-to-head but trails in 2016, having lost their Fed Cup match in straight sets. This will be their first match on grass.
"I know Angelique very well. I played many times against her. Last match was on clay, so it's going to be different.
"I'm confident. I have to be. I am playing well. I am into the tournament already, so I had tough matches before. I'm looking forward to play against her, and I know it's going to be tough.
"She had a good year so far. I'm trying just to enjoy the moment, just to take it like it is."