Karolina Pliskova continued her stunning week with a semi-final victory over Garbine Muguruza, 6-4 5-7 7-5 in Dubai. Karolina has won five matches this week against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Ana Ivanovic, Lucie Safarova and Muguruza with each match taking progressively longer. This marathon semi-final lasted two hours and 53 minutes. I can’t believe that Karolina is still standing after all the tennis she has played in the last few weeks. In her semi-final match in Antwerp against Carla Suarez Navarro last weekend she looked exhausted; with just one day off between that match and the start of her tournament in Dubai, she has done a remarkable job to win five matches, of which three have been decided in three sets.
In the Pliskova v Muguruza match, the story of the first two sets was break points. The pair had 19 break points between them with just two successful conversions. After losing the opener, Muguruza had many opportunities in the second set eventually sealing the set on a Pliskova double fault. In the deciding set, Pliskova broke to love at 5-5 after a woeful game from Muguruza. The Czech player threatened to return the favour, but saved three break points from *0-40 down to seal her first win over Muguruza and a place in her biggest career final to date.
Pliskova will play Simona Halep in the Dubai final after the world number four beat Caroline Wozniacki, 2-6 6-1 6-1. It was a befuddling semi-final with three one-sided sets. Halep got off to a slow start as she made a string of unforced errors into the net. Wozniacki dominated early proceedings with her best set of the tournament so far. However as the match wore on, her energy levels dipped as the week of battling illness finally got the better of her. After fighting past Ekaterina Makarova in a tight quarter-final match, Halep has secured back-to-back top ten wins, her first of the year.
This will be the first ever time that Halep and Pliskova have played each other. I’ve gone against Pliskova for the last three matches and here I go again. Pliskova’s last three matches have been against aggressive baseliners. Halep, while having an aggressive streak to her game at times, offers something different in the sense that she is likely to get a lot more balls back in play. Even though Halep has been error-strewn at times this week, I’d be surprised if Pliskova can muscle up the energy to take the title… but then again, I didn’t expect her to win her last three matches and she has come through with flying colours…
Prediction: Halep d. Pliskova in 3 sets