Simona Halep said the fierce heat and sun "killed me" during her Australian Open semi-final defeat after she let slip opportunities to put away unseeded Garbine Muguruza on Thursday.
The Romanian fourth seed had not dropped a set in reaching the last four, but she lost her cool -- mangling her racquet -- on the way to a 7-6 (10/8), 7-5 defeat.
Muguruza, like Halep a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one, meets American 14th seed Sofia Kenin in the final in Melbourne, where temperatures soared close to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Thursday.
"It was very, very hot today and I felt it. Killed me after the first set, at the end of the first set," said the 28-year-old Halep.
"The sun was strong, I didn't like that much to play in this weather.
"The level of energy went down a little bit, and I felt it in the legs. I was not used to it in the last two weeks, we didn't have that much heat."
Halep, who will rise a spot to two in the world rankings next week despite the defeat, said her failure to bury Muguruza when ahead in both sets stung her.
"To lose like this hurts more, definitely. I'm in pain now, I have to admit," s