Pliskova too strong for Muguruza

INDIAN WELLS • Third seed Karolina Pliskova thwarted a late charge by French Open champion Garbine Muguruza to reach the Indian Wells WTA semi-finals with a 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5) victory.

Trailing 5-2 in the second set, Spain's seventh-seeded Muguruza battled back, saving two match points as they went to a second tie-breaker. It was to no avail, however, as Pliskova notched her sixth win in seven meetings with Muguruza.

"Definitely the best match for me in this tournament," Pliskova said. "It was a good player, so the level ultimately goes a little bit more up. Definitely from the baseline I think was fine. But the way I was finishing those sets, I'm not happy with that.

"I had some good rallies on my hand and on my racket, but didn't serve well in important moments. So everything was through the rally, which is always tough for me," added the Czech, who leads the WTA Tour in aces and relies heavily on her big serve.

The highest-ranked player left in the draw thanks to the injury withdrawal of Serena Williams and the fourth-round exit of Angelique Kerber, Pliskova is in the semi-finals for the second straight year.

She will next face eighth-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-4.

Two-time Major winner Kuznetsova was determined not to lose to compatriot Pavlyuchenkova for a third time this year. "I lost two times this year, so today was kind of an important match," Kuznetsova said. "I know I felt much better on the court. It was good to focus."

The remaining women's semi-finalists were set to be decided yesterday, with seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams taking on Russian Elena Vesnina and 2011 Indian Wells champion Caroline Wozniacki facing France's Kristina Mladenovic.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'Pliskova too strong for Muguruza'. Print Edition | Subscribe