18th seed Karolina Pliskova continued her dream week at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open, powering past Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and three minutes to book her place in the semi finals. With this victory, Pliskova will now meet the winner of the match between Victoria Azarenka and Magdalena Rybarikova for a place in Sunday's blockbuster showpiece.
Pliskova Clinches Decisive Break in Fifth Game
With the first five games going with serve thanks to some intelligent play from both WTA Rising Stars, it was the eldest of the two -- Pliskova -- who drew first blood, breaking at the second time of asking to take an all-important 4-2 lead. From there, the Czech powered through the rest of the set, utilizing her big serve and ground strokes to open up the court, and never really letting her Russian counterpart find any sort of rhythm on one of the hottest days of the tournament so far. Despite Kasatkina's late resistance to force Pliskova to serve out the set at 5-3, the 18th seed made no mistake this time around; the Russian's backhand return sailing into the tramlines, to seal the Czech the opening set 6-3 in 33 minutes.
Pliskova Powers Through Second Set; Advances to Last Four
Picking up right where she left off in the opening stages of the second set, Pliskova showed no signs of letting up, converting her second break point with an emphatic inside out forehand winner, which sent a clear statement of intent to an already-struggling Kasatkina. From there, the 23-year-old continued to dominate on her own serve, consolidating the break at love with four perfect serves, including one behind the second serve to close the game. To the credit of Kasatkina, she refused to back down despite Pliskova's early onslaught, saving three break points en route to holding and staying in touch with the Czech to trail 1-2.
But from that point on, it was almost all Pliskova; the 18th seed dominating in all departments and never letting Kasatkina settle into any sort of rhythm. Within a matter of minutes, the former world number seven powered through another service game before breaking for a third time to take a commanding set and 4-1 lead. With nothing in Kasatkina's game seeming to consistently trouble Pliskova, it was only a matter of time until the Czech number three consolidated the double break to put her within one game of a berth in the last four.
As Pliskova closed in on victory, Kasatkina looked dispirited, but finally came to life in the seventh game of the second set, saving three match points with some great serving en route to a much-needed hold that would keep her hopes of securing a spot in the last four alive.
But in the end, all that hard work from Kasatkina was done in vain as Pliskova converted her fifth match point with a signature one-two punch to secure a comprehensive and efficient 6-3, 6-2 victory in 63 minutes.
Pliskova's Win by the Numbers
Statistically and figuratively speaking, there was little Kasatkina could do to counter the dominance of Pliskova in this quarter final clash. Sending winner after winner, the Czech was incredibly efficient, hitting 30 winners to just 10 unforced errors while her Russian counterpart hit just 16 winners to 15 unforced errors. In addition, Pliskova hit more than two times as many aces as Kasatkina (9 to 4) and broke three times, while never facing a break point during their hour on court.