WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Wimbledon tips for the second semi-final between Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka.
23:30 (AEST), Thu 8th Jul @ All England Club, Wimbledon
History: Played 2: Sabalenka 2 V Pliskova 0
Last meeting: Cincinnati Masters, 2018 (R32): Sabalenka d Pliskova 2-6 6-3 7-5
Final Thoughts: While Grand Slam winners Ash Barty and Angelique Kerber square off in the other semi-final, a pair of players hunting their first major championship duel for a berth in the 2021 Wimbledon final.
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka has finally parlayed her WTA Tour dominance into a deep run on the Grand Slam stage. The 23-year-old has progressed beyond the fourth round of a major for the first time.
World No.13 Karolina Pliskova is into a Grand Slam semi for the fourth time, having made the US Open final in 2016 before losing semi-finals at the 2017 French Open and 2019 Australian Open.
Sabalenka has been solid throughout her breakout Wimbledon campaign. After overcoming the challenge from 18th seed Elina Rybakina in the fourth round 6-3 4-6 6-3, the Belarussian put away in-form 21st seed Ons Jabeur in impressive style 6-4 6-3.
Meanwhile, Pliskova, who lost her first-round matches in lead-in events in Berlin and Eastbourne, is yet to drop a set. But the 29-year-old is yet to play a seeded player. She has so far accounted for Tamara Zidansek, Donna Vekic, Tereza Martinacova, Ludmilla Samsonova and Viktroija Golubic, dropping more than six games just once (in the first round against Zidansek) and losing just three games on serve.
Sabalenka has won both of her previous encounters with Pliskova. Both matches were three-setters during the 2018 season, with rising star Sabalenka prevailing in the Eastbourne International quarters and the second round of the Cincinnati Masters.
It’s Sabalenka’s power game that has carried her into the semis, squashing the inventive Jabeur in emphatic style. As dominant as Pliskova has been, she has not encountered an opponent with anywhere near the class of Sabalenka.
Sabalenka also appears to have shaken off the nerves that have thwarted her previous Grand Slam tilts. The tyro is well-placed to snare her first opportunity to play in a major final.