Karolina Pliskova sets up semifinal match against Donna Vekic in Brisbane - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova sets up semifinal match against Donna Vekic in Brisbane

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Former Brisbane champion Karolina Pliskova overcame Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 1-6 6-1 to reach the semifinals at the Brisbane International for the third consecutive year.

Pliskova drew the first break in the second game of the opening set after a double fault from Tomljanovic and saved two break points in the fifth game. The Czech player, who won in Brisbane in 2017, earned another break in the sixth game and served out the first set 6-1 with hold at love in the seventh game thanks to a service winner.

Tomljanovic broke twice to race out to a 5-0 lead in the second set and saved a break point in the seventh game before sealing the set with a forehand cross court winner.

Pliskova fought back by winning the first 14 points to race out to a 4-0 lead in the decisive set with a forehand drive winner. The former world number 1 player wrapped up the match with a hold in the seventh game.

“It was a very strange match today, but the beginning of the sets was very important. I have never had a match like this, but I am just happy that I am back in the semifinals”,said Pliskova.

Pliskova will take on Donna Vekic, who cruised through last year’s Brisbane finalist Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-0 in just 56 minutes to advance to her second semifinal after Tokyo in 2018 and secure her spot in the top 30. Vekic converted all her five break points.

Vekic earned an immediate break in the opening game of the first set with a forehand winner and held her service game in the next game with a service winner. The Croatian player went up a double break with a backhand error from Sasnovich. Vekic closed out the opening set with a service winner at 5-2 after 30 minutes. Vekic broke in the first game of the second set with a backhand cross court winner and held his serve with two winners after a deuce.

Vekic got a break in the first game of the second set and hit two winners to hold his service game at deuce. Sasnovich netted a forehand to drop her serve in the third game. Vekic broke for the third time at love with a backhand return winner and held serve with a forehand winner in the sixth game to close out the second set with a bagel.

Pliskova beat Vekic in the semifinal of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last autumn en route to winning her second 2018 title.

“I think she is playing well here. I saw a little bit of her match today and we hit before the tournament. The last time we played in Tokyo, it was a three-setter again. It’s the semifinals and there are really no easy matches”,said Pliskova.

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WATCH: Fans Fight Over Aryna Sabalenka’s Headband Before Security Takes Item Away

Watch the moment two tennis fans lose it over a headband!

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It is traditional for a player to celebrate their victory by throwing some of their unwanted items into the crowd. However, at the Australian Open Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka got more than she bargained for.

The 11th seed moved into the third round of the tournament on Wednesday following a 6-3, 6-4, win over Great Britain’s Katie Boulter. Recording her seventh win of the season. Shortly after her victory, she threw her headband into the crowd at the Melbourne Arena. Inadvertently creating a tug of war between two stubborn tennis fans. Resulting in them both being escorted off the premises!

https://twitter.com/JeddZetzer/status/1085438472863633408

Following the both bizarre and funny showdown between the two spectators, many are wondering who the winner was. Ironically, it was neither. According to Sporting News, security escorted both women away and then took the item from them as they couldn’t agree as to who should get it.

I guess you can’t win them all!

The two ladies involved in the tussle (image via https://twitter.com/standardsport)

 

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Kiki Bertens knocked out by Pavlyuchenkova

Pavlyuchenkova earned a big win over 9th seed Bertens, while Sasnovich also stunned 20th seed Kontaveit.

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Kiki Bertens became the highest seeded casualty in the women’s draw so far when she lost an entertaining three-set encounter 3-6 6-3 6-3 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Dutchwoman, 27, had her best-ever year on the WTA tour in 2018. She won three titles, including the Premier 5 event in Cincinnati, but she will not back up those successes with a good run in Melbourne.

In the first set, Bertens looked comfortable as she broke Pavlyuchenkova twice to establish a 5-1 lead. However, the Russian gained a foothold in the match when she earned her first break in the seventh game.

Pavlyuchenkova built on that momentum in the second set when she went 3-0 up thanks to an early break. And she continued to serve impressively to level the match at one-set all.

The decider was more unpredictable. The Russian broke in the first game, but her Dutch opponent responded with an immediate break back.

However, Pavlyuchenkova’s groundstrokes looked in excellent working order by this stage and she used them to great effect to break Bertens twice more in the fifth and ninth games to take the set 6-3 and clinch a superb win.

“I’m really happy with the win and the way I played today,” the Russian said in her post-match interview. “She is a very tough opponent so that is a great win for me.”

Sasnovich shocks Kontaveit

Pavlyuchenkova’s opponent in round three will be another seed-killer after Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat 20th seed Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-3.

The Belarussian claimed a headline-grabbing win over Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon last year and she is in scintillating form so far in 2019.

Sasnovich, 24, reached the quarter-final in Brisbane and the semi-final in Sydney and she has carried that momentum into the Australian Open.

She thrashed former Grand Slam semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-1 in the first round and then beat Kontaveit almost as convincingly.

Stephens, Garcia and Martic advance

Sloane Stephens had no such trouble in her match against Timea Babos. She beat the Hungarian 6-3 6-1 to set up a third round meeting with Petra Martic, who took out Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 7-5.

Caroline Garcia also looks to be in good form. She backed up a first-round victory over qualifier Jessika Ponchet with a 6-3 6-3 win over Australian wildcard Zoe Hives.

 

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Naomi Osaka takes straight set win to cruise through to the second round

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Last year’s US Open champion and number 4 seed Naomi Osaka beat Magda Linette 6-4 6-2 in 58 minutes to cruise through to the second round at the Australian Open.

Osaka avenged her 6-2 3-6 6-3 defeat against Linette, who won their most recent defeat in the second round at Washington last summer.

The US-based Japanese player claimed four breaks of serve and hit 30 winners to just 16 unforced errors.

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games to draw level to 2-2. Osaka earned her second consecutive break in the fifth game to take  a 3-2 lead and held three consecutive service games at love to close out the opening set 6-4. The Japanese player held his service games in his service games and got two breaks in the third and seventh games to close out the second set 6-2.

Osaka won 24 of her 25 points behind her first serve and fired six aces.

The 21-year-old Japanese player will take on Tamara Zidansek, who stunned Daria Gavrilova 7-5 6-3 in her debut at the Australian Open.

“I had a lot of fun. It’s not often that I get to play a night match at Rod Laver. For me it was the first time. I did not feel nervous either, which was a bit unexpected. I thought that I would, being that it’s the first match. I just felt like I had a lot of fun today. For me it was more a test. I was testing myself on how well I can move”,said Osaka.

This year’s Brisbane International champion Karolina Pliskova broke serve four times and dropped her serve twice to cruise past her compatriot Karolina Muchova 6-3 6-2.

Elina Svitolina dropped just three games in her 6-1 6-2 win over Viktorija Golubic with five breaks of serve.

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