01 November 2019

WTA Finals: Karolina Pliskova through to semi-finals after thriller against Simona Halep

Karolina Pliskova produced arguably the performance of her year - and withstood an almighty fightback - to beat Simona Halep and progress to the semi-finals of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

The match was a straight shoot-out for the last four, with the winner getting the only place remaining, and Pliskova beat her Romanian opponent 6-0 2-6 6-4.

It was a brilliant performance from the Czech, who did not drop her level for most of the match, and she will pose a huge threat for world number on Ashleigh Barty tomorrow.

The first set took just 20 minutes as Pliskova’s aggressive returning and not allowing Halep to keep tight to the baseline saw her win 27 of the 37 points in the set. Pliskova hit just three unforced errors in the six games.

It was the second set in her opening match against Bianca Andreescu where Halep made a comeback, and she did the same again here as she broke her opponent in the opening game.

Even though Pliskova levelled with a break of her own, Halep was growing in confidence and able to use her superior movement to cause the Czech problems.

She broke twice more and held firm on her own serve to take the match into a decider, the fifth match this week that has required three sets out of ten completed matches.

Halep continued her momentum into the third set as she broke early to take her streak of winning games to six but as has so often been the case in three-set matches this week, it was full of twists and turns.

Pliskova won the next four games with her wide serve playing a huge role. In the middle of those four games, Halep’s coach Darren Cahill said: “The last three games you’ve been an absolute disgrace on the court.”

While he would have hoped it would galvanise her, it seemed to do the opposite and despite getting back on serve, she could not hold in the tenth game and allowed Pliskova to enter her third consecutive semi-final at the WTA Finals.

In the earlier match, defending champion Elina Svitolina kept her 100% record in the Purple Group with a surprisingly difficult victory over Sofia Kenin.

Kenin, who was a replacement for the injured Andreescu, broke Svitolina’s serve twice in the opening set but the Ukrainian showed her power of consistency to get through the first set.

It took her sixth match points, following a 17-minute mammoth tiebreak, in the second set to come through 7-5 7-6(10). Svitolina will play Belinda Bencic in the semi-finals tomorrow.

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