The seeds had been exerting their dominance through the first few days of the new season… it’s all come tumbling down somewhat over the past two days with the WTA’s top five all falling before the semi-finals in their respective tournaments.
In the last of the Brisbane quarter-finals, Elina Svitolina scored her second consecutive win over the world number one, Angelique Kerber. Svitolina produced some impressive results at the back end of 2016 and early results suggest she is set for a great year. I was particularly encouraged that she managed to serve out the match to 15.
Alizé Cornet won the International tournament in Hobart last year and is having another super run down under, reaching the semi-finals in Brisbane. The Frenchwoman improved her head-to-head record against Dominika Cibulkova to 3-5 with a 6-3 7-5 victory. Cornet needed three attempts at serving out the win but got the job done in straight sets.
This picture of Alizé is everything.
The world numbers six and seven, Karolina Pliskova and Garbiñe Muguruza, have made the brightest starts to 2017. Pliskova won her first ever set against Roberta Vinci as she came from a set down to win in three, 3-6 6-2 6-2. Muguruza recovered from a slow start and saved set points in the first set to edge past Svetlana Kuznetsova in two tight sets, 7-5 6-4 in what was the first all top ten clash of 2017 on the WTA tour.
The semi-finals are set in Brisbane for Friday.
Muguruza leads Cornet, 2-0 in their head-to-head and has battled extremely well so far this week, but she has spoken about feeling fatigued following her first two matches. Cornet will no doubt be pumped for this match following a post on Twitter over the off-season that would suggest she’s not Garbiñe’s biggest fan!
Pliskova’s never lost a match on tour to Svitolina although the Ukrainian did beat the Czech player in Hopman Cup last year. It’s not easy to separate Pliskova and Svitolina and I think it should be a very competitive match.
I’m going for a Pliskova v Muguruza final in Brisbane.
Over in Auckland, Julia Goerges produced a sensational comeback from 1-6 0-3 down to defeat Caroline Wozniacki, 1-6 6-3 6-4. I watched the first set where Wozniacki was in complete control against an erratic Goerges. I left for work when Wozniacki was up a set and a break and arrived to find Goerges serving for the match! It sounds like Peak-Julia was in the house and the forehand below is already a contender for shot of the year.
In a week of weather disruptions and withdrawals in Auckland, Naomi Osaka was forced to pull out of her quarter-final match to Ana Konjuh with a wrist injury. Auckland’s had a rough week and I was so hoping Osaka-Konjuh would deliver after Osaka-V.Williams didn’t go ahead on Wednesday.
The semi-finals are set:
Jelena Ostapenko (7) v Lauren Davis
Ana Konjuh (8) v Julia Goerges
It’s not the semi-final line-up anyone expected and the only player I had in my draw to the semi-finals was Konjuh. All four players are quite evenly matched so it will be intriguing nonetheless to see who wins the title. I’m leaning towards Konjuh…
The most surprising result of the day for me was in Shenzhen with Alison Riske’s 6-2 3-6 6-0 (!) win over the number one seed, Agnieszka Radwanska. In a repeat of last year’s final, Riske produced a superb performance to claim the best win of her career and back-to-back top ten wins on tour having defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in Tianjin at the back end of the 2016 season. I can’t quite get my head around the third set bagel…
Johanna Konta is the highest seed to reach the semi-finals in Shenzhen after another resilient display to defeat Kristyna Pliskova, 6-4 6-7(11) 6-3. Konta missed match points in a quality second set tiebreak; the Brit then netted a crucial forehand and Pliskova pounced with an ace out wide to force a decider.
The Brit reacted positively and eventually served out the win on her fifth match point. I was impressed with Pliskova who fought hard to stay in the mix, which included one of the hardest hit returns i’ve seen in a while to fend off one of the match points.
The semi-finals in Shenzhen sound like a lot of fun. I think there’s a case for all four players to go on and win the title. I’d probably go for Konta…
Alison Riske (8) v Camila Giorgi
Johanna Konta (3) v Katerina Siniakova
The draws for Sydney and Hobart qualifying have already been released… it’s already too much!
And finally, it looks like we might see Sloane Stephens compete on a tennis court for the first time since the Olympics.