Mirjana Lucic-Baroni stuns Karolina Pliskova for Australian Open semi-final place - UBITENNIS
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Mirjana Lucic-Baroni stuns Karolina Pliskova for Australian Open semi-final place

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Lucic-Baroni last reached a grand slam semi-final in 1999, when she lost to Steffi Graf at Wimbledon (Zimbio.com)

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued her stunning tournament, matching her career best run at a grand slam tournament by reaching the finals by defeating fifth seed Karolina Pliskova 64 36 64. The Croatian returned from a medical timeout to win twelve of the final thirteen points to reach her first grand slam semi-final since Wimbledon in 1999.

 

Lucic Baroni barely played between 2004 and 2008 after suffering personal problems that affected her life and career.

Lucic-Baroni had beaten Agnieszka Radwanska in the early rounds but few would have backed her to defeat the in-form Pliskova, who has made giant strides in the last twelve months.

Pliskova survived an early deuce scare on serve at love-one before racing into a three-one lead. She would win just one of the next eight games though, as Lucic-Baroni rolled back the years to take control of the opening set.

Lucic-Baroni set up three set points at four-five when she started the game with two magnificent backhand winners, both angled cross-court drives that passed Pliskova. The rattled fifth seed then missed with her own backhand to bring up love-forty. Lucic-Baroni missed long on her first shot, but then Pliskova followed suit to hand the Croatian a stunning set lead

The Croatian was dominant on serve through most of the set, winning more than three-quarters of points behind her first serve, and exactly half of her second serve points.

Lucic-Baroni held again to start the second, before a forehand cross-court, and a wide backhand cross-court winner brought up two immediate break points. Unlike the first set, Pliskova was unable to fend off the early pressure, meekly firing long with a forehand to hand the veteran Croatian the early second set break.

The thirty-four year-old perhaps understandably got tight, missing with three balls into the net in the next game and Pliskova immediately returned to serve. Before she could attempt to level on the second set scoreboard though, Pliskova received a three-minute timeout to treat blisters that had developed on Pliskova’s right foot.

Pliskova eventually held after a deuce game, and then broke when a vicious barrage of ground strokes saw the Croatian break down on the backhand side. The fifth seed then hit a rich vein of form, breaking twice to end the set six-three.

Four breaks of serve in the first six games of the deciding set saw the momentum swing one way and then the other. It was again Pliskova who hit top form at a crucial time, recovering from one-three to lead four-three on serve.

Lucic-Baroni was the next to call for a medical timeout, leaving court for assessment and then treatment. She returned to play a superb service game to stop Pliskova’s momentum, holding serve in just one minute and one second.

The injury break really seemed to help, with a superb start to her next return game also, two deep returns getting her to love-thirty. Two unforced errors from Pliskova then ensured Lucic-Baroni would serve for a place in the semi-finals, having won eight straight points since returning from the injury timeout.

Lucic-Baroni – ” I can’t believe this, this is crazy, I can’t believe I am in semi-finals again, I feel a little bit in shock right now. I could never dream about being here again (breaks down in tears) I know this means a lot to every player to reach the semi-finals but I will never ever forget this, just to think that I was this strong and that it was worth fighting for. It was impossible to serve from that side, the glasses do nothing but I just felt extreme calm and I just went after my shots. It’s really tough, I’m going to do my best to recover.

Regardless of the result that she earns in the semi-finals or further, the story of Lucic-Baroni at the 2017 Australian Open is surely the story to be remembered from the women’s draw.

Lucic-Baroni’s story hasn’t finished yet at this tournament, with the next chapter featuring her in a semi-final against Serena Williams or Johanna Konta.

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Fiona Ferro beats Camila Giorgi to set up final against Anett Kontaveit

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France’s Fiona Ferro came back from one set down to beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 2-6 6-2 7-5 reaching her first final of the season at the Ladies Open in Palermo. Ferro sets up a final against Anett Kontaveit, who beat top seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4. 

 

Giorgi broke twice in a row to open up a 4-0 lead and saved three break points before holding serve for 5-0. Ferro pulled one break back, when Giorgi was serving for the first set. Giorgi sealed the opening set 6-2 with her third break in the eighth game. 

Ferro earned an early break in the first game of the second set and held her serve after saving two break points to open up a 2-0 lead. Ferro went up a double break in the fifth game to race out to a 4-1 lead, but Giorgi got one break back for 2-4. Ferro broke again in the seventh game and served out the second set 6-2. 

Giorgi dropped her serve in the third game of the second set and saved a break point in the fifth game. Giorgi broke back in the 10th game, as Ferro was serving for the match at 5-4. Ferro broke serve in the 11th game and served out the win on her second match point. 

Giorgi was aiming to become the first Italian player to reach the final in Palermo since Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci battled for the title in 2013. Ferro is unbeaten in all her four post-lockdown matches on the WTA Tour.

Ferro beat an Italian opponent for the second evening in a row one day after her win over Sara Errani. 

“I would have never won those matches two years ago. I used to focus on my opponent when she was playing aggressive, and I did not find solutions. Today I am very happy to be through because I managed to focus more on my game and not on my emotions”, said Ferro.

“I have no regrets. I felt in good shape and I tried to play my own game. The break in the third set made the difference”, said Giorgi.

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Anett Kontaveit beats Petra Martic to reach the final in Palermo

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World number 22 Anett Kontaveit from Estonia upset number 1 seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4 to reach the final at the Ladies Open in Palermo. 

 

Martic has scored her third win in her seven matches against top 20 players after beating Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina. 

Kontaveit avenged her defeat against Martic in their only previous match played in Dubai last February before the lockdown. 

Kontaveit had to fight to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set at deuce and took control of the match by breaking in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Martic won only 56% on her first serve in the opening set. Kontaveit came back from 0-30 down to hold serve in the seventh game before breaking for the second time in the eighth game to win the first set 6-2. 

Martic earned an early break in the first game of the second set at deuce, but Kontaveit broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Estonian player saved a break point before holding serve to take a 2-1 lead. Kontaveit saved five of the six break points she faced. Kontaveit broke for the second time in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Martic held serve at 2-5 down before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to claw her way back to 4-5. The Croatian player received a medical time-out before Kontaveit for the third time in the tenth game at love to close out the second set 6-4. 

Kontaveit will chase her second title in tomorrow’s final three years after winning in S’Hertogenbosch in 2017.

“I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I am happy to be in the final”, said Kontaveit. 

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Camila Giorgi battles past Dayana Yastremska in late-night clash in Palermo

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Italy’s Camila Giorgi battled past number 7 seed Dayana Yastremska 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 after 2 hours and 52 minutes to secure her spot in the semifinal at the Ladies Open in Palermo. 

 

Giorgi fended off two match points in the second set before completing her come-back in a late-night epic clash which ended at nearly 1.30 a.m. local time. Giorgi set up a semifinal against French player Fiona Ferro, who beat another Italian player Sara Errani.

Both players traded breaks in the first and fourth games of the opening set to draw level to 3-3. Giorgi saved three break points in the seventh game, but Yastremska converted her fourth chance with a service return to take a 4-3 lead. 

Yastremska served for the first set at 5-4, but Giorgi earned a break point, when the Ukrainian player made a double fault. Giorgi missed two groundstrokes and Yastremska earned a set point. Giorgi fended off four set points, but she was not able to reach a break point. Yastremska hit an ace to earn he fifth set point and converted it after Giorgi sent a forehand wide. 

The second set started with two trades of break en route to 3-3. Yastremska broke serve, as Giorgi sent a forehand wide on the third break point. Yastremska earned her first match point with an ace at 5-4. She earned a second opportunity with a forehand winner. Giorgi saved them with her powerful returns before breaking serve to draw level to 5-5. The Italian player raced out to a 4-0 lead in the tie-break and hit a backhand winner down the line to pull away to 6-3. Yastremska saved the first two set points, but Giorgi sealed the second set on her third opportunity. 

In the third set Yastremska earned two break points at 3-2, but Giorgi held serve to draw level to 3-3. Giorgi broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 and held serve in the eighth game for 5-3. Giorgi earned a match point, when Yastremska netted a groundstroke, and converted it, when her return forced a wide error. 

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