Pliskova wins twice to reach semis, secure No. 1 spot

CINCINNATI: Defending champion Karolina Pliskova solidified her world number one ranking on Friday (Aug 18) by defeating fifth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and qualifier Camila Giorgi on Friday to reach the WTA and ATP Cincinnati Masters semi-finals.

Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, returns to Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament on Aug 18, 2017, in Mason, Ohio. (Photo: AP/John Minchillo)

The 25-year-old Czech, fighting to hold off Romania’s second-ranked Simona Halep atop the rankings, first ousted Italian qualifier Giorgi 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in one of five matches postponed from Thursday due to rain.

Pliskova returned two hours later and defeated Denmark’s fifth-ranked Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 to book a Saturday semi-final matchup against reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.

Four rivals could have toppled Pliskova this week, but the only one still with a hope is Halep, who faces Britain’s seventh-ranked Johanna Konta in a later quarter-final.

By virtue of Pliskova’s twin wins, Halep must capture the title to swipe the top spot in next week’s rankings.

Also doing double duty at the final major tuneup for the US Open was Spain’s Rafael Nadal, assured of moving into the world number one ranking on Monday for the first time since July 2004.

Nadal beat compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 to reach a quarter-final later against Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Both Nadal and Ramos-Vinolas wore black ribbons on their shirts in memory of victims of the terror attack Thursday in Barcelona.

“What happened yesterday in Barcelona was, of course, terrible. Everyone is very, very sad. I don’t have words to say, because when these kind of things happen, is difficult,” Nadal said.

“All my support to Barcelona and especially to the people that are suffering a lot, for all the families of the victims. Just keep going and sorry for everything.”

Nadal, a 15-time Grand Slam champion who won his 10th French Open title in June, was ensured of overtaking injury-idled Andy Murray and topping the rankings for the first time since July 2014 after Roger Federer withdrew from Cincinnati with a back injury.

Kyrgios, ranked 23rd, outlasted Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3. The Aussie double faulted on the last point to hand Karlovic the first set but forced an errant backhand to win the tie-breaker and dominated the last set.

Pliskova improved to 3-5 all-time against Wozniacki, who beat her last week in a Toronto quarter-final.

The Czech, who downed Wozniacki in this year’s Eastbourne and Doha finals, broke in the third game of each set and saved the only break point she faced in her first service game.

Sixth-ranked Spaniard Muguruza ousted Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in a matchup of two-time Grand Slam winners that lasted two hours, 45 minutes.

“It was one of the best matches of the year,” Muguruza said. “It was a battle. I fought so hard. It was very tough. We both played very well.”

Muguruza displayed a black ribbon on her visor in memory of Barcelona victims. “I had it on my mind,” Muguruza said.

SVITOLINA NO.1 BID FOILED

Ukraine’s fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina lost her chance at number one this week when she was beaten by Julia Goerges 7-5, 6-4.

Bulgarian seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov defeated Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals against the winner of a later match between Americans John Isner and Jared Donaldson.

Austria’s eighth-ranked Dominic Thiem was also to meet Spaniard David Ferrer for a semi-final spot against Nadal or Kyrgios.

Source AFP



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