It should be a great weekend of tennis in Stuttgart with four Top 8 players in the semifinals. Leading the way is World No. 1 Ash Barty who came from a break down in the third to beat former champion Karolina Pliskova 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Pliskova, who won the 2018 title over Coco Vandeweghe, led 5-3 in the third and served for the match at 5-4.
“In a sense it was probably a match of two sets,” said Barty. “In the first set I wasn’t able to build any pressure. Kaja was getting in and out of her serving games too quickly, and in turn was then having freedom on my service games. But being able to flip that switch right from the first game of the second set was important. To then make it more of a physical match was what we were after, and over time we were able to get the match back on my terms as much as we expected.”
Barty will continue her first red clay event since her 2019 French Open run Saturday in the semifinals against Elina Svitolina. Svitolina had to save two match points in a harrowing win over Petra Kvitova 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-2.
Kvitova, who came in as defending champion, had her first match point with Svitolina serving at 2-5 in the second, and another at 4-5. Svitolina ended up winning 11 of the last 13 games to stun the Czech.
“A big battle is always very satisfying, and you know that the hard work pays off,” Svitolina said, in her post-match press conference. “It’s always an unbelievable feeling to go through this kind of match.
“In the end, a few points here and there got me back into the match,” Svitolina said. “From 3-5, 4-5 I was ready, fighting and locked in for a big fight.”
Barty will hope to celebrate her 25th birthday a third straight win over Svitolina.
“It’s exciting to be playing on my birthday,” Barty said. “I mean, it’s what I love to do. Playing against another tough opponent, there’s no better challenge and there’s no better way for me to celebrate.”
Former French champion Simona Halep cruised into the semifinals ousting Ekatarina Alexandrova 6-1, 6-4. In Halep’s first semifinal since Rome, she’ll meet Aryna Sabalenka who beat Anett Kontaveit in three sets 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.
“I have played Sabalenka many times,” Halep said. “I know what to expect, actually. She’s hitting very strong, she’s very powerful. So I have just to focus on my game and try to push her back and be aggressive if I can.”
Halep has won three of four against the Belarussian.
“I will prepare myself as good as I can for tomorrow’s match,” Sabalenka said. “I have to work for every point, be there from the beginning to the end. Do my best.”
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