SHENZHEN, China – Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic beat Romanian Simona Halep to reach the semifinal at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen on Friday.
No. 2 seed Pliskova bagged the last spot in the final four with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 victory over reigning Wimbledon champion Halep.
The pair had an almost equal amount of unforced errors in the clash, but Pliskova claimed 28 winners to Halep’s 15 after one hour and 43 minutes of play.
After punching a volley to hold serve in the opening game, Pliskova began a first-set barrage.
She pulled through a tight game and broke Halep’s serve for 2-0, setting the tone for the remainder of the set.
Strong serving gave her easy holds as she opened up a 5-0 lead. Pliskova was almost unstoppable in the opening frame, closing it out after just 20 minutes after breaking Halep for the third time with a backhand winner.
Former world number 1 Halep began to turn the tide as she worked her way back into the clash in the second set.
Pliskova dropped serve in the opening game of the set and then double faulted on break point in the next game, before pulling back to level at 2 games each.
But Halep soon reclaimed her break advantage, and after breaking her Cezch opponent twice, took a 5-2 lead thanks to a pair of down-the-line backhand winners. The Romanian held firm to seal the second set.
In the third and final set, Halep kept her momentum going, breaking Pliskova in the first game with a strong backhand return winner down the line into the corner.
Halep won a sixth straight game to take a 2-0 lead in the final set, before Pliskova recovered her aggressive action, earning a love break to level the set at 2-2.
She came through a tense, close game to hold on for 3-2, with a forehand winner down the line that sealed a third straight game.
With the momentum now firmly with the Czech, Halep then dropped serve at love again as as Pliskova began to pull away with a 5-2 lead.
Her hard-fought victory, which was sealed when she fired a forehand that fortuitously clipped the net out of reach of Halep, means Pliskova has reached the last four of the closing event of the women’s tour for the third consecutive year.
Pliskova will now face Australian Ashleigh Barty, who had already qualified for the semis on Thursday.
In previous play Ukrainian Elina Svitolina defeated American Sofia Klenin 7-5, 7-6 (10).
Klenin had replaced Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, who withdrew from the tournament with an injury to her left knee.
With her semifinal berth already sealed, Svitolina beat Klenin in two hours and 10 minutes to finish leader of the Purple group and remain unbeaten.
“Each time I step on the court I have to win,” Svitolina said afterwards.
“My parents raised me this way – that I have to fight for everything, I have to give 100% each time I play,” she continued.
“They would be very angry if I would just give this match to her. And my grandmother, as well – she would be very sad.”
She will face Swiss player Belinda Bencic in the semifinals.