After five damp days in Doha, the rain finally disappeared long enough for the semi-finals in both singles and doubles to be completed. It’s the first time all week that the tournament has been on schedule! It did require three of the four semi-finalists in singles to play two matches in a long, long day.
The day began with quarter-finals action and the resumption of a terrific match between Daria Kasatkina and Monica Puig. I’m sad I didn’t get to see the end of it and I hope these two play again soon and without the interruptions. Their game styles are so different that they complement each other and produce some compelling tennis. Kasatkina came out of the blocks fast on Friday and led 4-2* 40-15* in the third set. Puig rallied to win four straight games and reach her first semi-final since Rio.
Loved the hug at the end! Full match highlights from the WTA are linked below.
Karolina Pliskova dropped just eight points in the second set in a superb 6-2 6-0 quarter-final victory over Zhang Shuai.
Caroline Wozniacki survived a wild first set against Lauren Davis before strolling through the second to win, 7-5 6-1. The first set contained seven breaks of serve, five deuce games and two saved set points from Wozniacki after Davis served for the first set at *5-4.
And now onto the semis… in the first of the semi-finals, Karolina Pliskova produced a gritty display, buoyed by 21 aces, to record a first ever win over Dominika Cibulkova, 6-4 4-6 6-3. Cibulkova always seemed to be in control of the rallies and was doing a great job early on of getting Pliskova on the move and in uncomfortable positions.
Pliskova battled superbly and despite clearly tiring towards the end, saved two break points at *3-3 *15-40 in the decider with her killer serve. Rather suddenly, the momentum swung in Pliskova’s favour with Cibulkova netting a tight groundstroke in the first point of the next game. Pliskova seized control from there on…
It was another tough three set loss for Cibulkova in a match where she had her fair share of opportunities. I was really impressed with Pliskova’s staying power having already played a match on Friday and against a player here she had never beaten. It was clear to see why Cibulkova can cause Pliskova problems, but the Czech player was really gutsy in the third set to pull out the win, her first top ten victory on the WTA tour in 2017.
Spare a thought for Wozniacki and Puig who began their semi-final at 10:58pm local time having both won their quarter-finals earlier on Friday. Puig had actually finished her previous match about ten hours before which was more challenging, in my opinion, to deal with than Wozniacki who had just a couple of hours recovery.
Wozniacki booked her place in the final with a midnight finish and a routine, 6-1 6-2 victory over an error-strewn Puig. It was a classic Wozniacki display but seriously, I doubt either player will have a much tougher day than this all year. A great week for Puig and I don’t take this performance into consideration at all because of the circumstances.
Soooo… the end of this wretched Doha tournament (no hard feelings, Doha!) is finally in sight and we have a very enticing final to look forward to between Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki leads the head-to-head, 3-0, winning all three matches in three sets. However, the pair haven’t played since 2014 with Pliskova a much improved player since, particularly in her movement.
I’m a little concerned for Pliskova as she looked visibly tired, understandably, at the end of her match against Cibulkova. If she can serve like she did on Friday then that’s going to be huge. I’ll stick with my original pick for the title with Pliskova in three sets.
Who you got?
And finally, i’m in awe of Lucie’s birthday cakes!