It was a topsy-turvy winner-takes-all rout for Karolina Pliskova who ousted Simona Halep in a tense decider to book her spot in a third straight semi-final. Pliskova got off to a roaring start, denying Halep even a game in the first set.
After an encouraging coaching time out, and trading breaks, Halep went on a tear, winning six games on the run to level the match and break first on the decider, before losing the next two games and earning herself a much harsher exchange in the on-court-coaching from Darren Cahill.
The pep talk resulted in Halep getting broken again and putting up one last flurry of resistance breaking Pliskova as she served for the match at 5-3, but could not stop the Czech from closing out the match.
She earns a match-up against the World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, and a chance to level up their head to head. Barty had her easiest round thus far against a weary Petra Kvitova, but Pliskova showed in this match against a player like Halep who could work the court well.
Pliskova said: “I really got used to it little bit. Of course, the amount of practices and the matches which I played here, especially the first one, I think it gave me a lot because we played a lot of good rallies and it was really close.
“That’s why maybe I felt better the next two matches. Normally I was always starting with a win. This time was super frustrating to start the group with a [loss]. But not every time is important the first match.
“Anyway, still not happy with the speed of the court, especially today at some moments I was like, how can she get there? I thought it was a great shot. Anyway, I’m fighting, doing my best. Of course, maybe my game is not 100% working here as I would love to. I play one more ball always. It’s still working.”
She can expect more of the same from Barty, who can also make use of the slower court to get to shots that would normally be considered winners. Certainly, Barty had no worries about facing either of her likely opponents.
She said: “There are no surprises. A bit of an adjustment with the conditions and the court and everything like that. We’ll worry about that when the time comes.”
Prediction: Barty in three sets.
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