WTA Prague Semifinal Preview: Lucie Safarova - Karolina Pliskova
An all-Czech semifinal clash sees defending champion Karolina Pliskova go up against Lucie Safarova. Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images.

Both Lucie Safarova and Karolina Pliskova prevailed over their quarterfinal opponents in straight sets albeit in chalk-and-cheese fashion. By virtue of both Czechs going head-to-head in this semifinal, the J&T Banka Prague Open final will see a home player try to gun for the title for the second consecutive year.

Lead-up

The third seed and defending champion Pliskova was the first of the pair to secure her semifinal spot. Overpowering Camila Giorgi with a dominating scoreline of  6-2, 6-1, the world number 18 is into her second straight Prague semifinal and she has yet to lose a set this week. In her first two matches in the Czech capital, she lost only ten games.  It has been a rather consistent start to the clay court swing for the Czech number three who reached the last eight in Stuttgart last week. 

Safarova ended her five-match losing streak in 2016 this week. Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.
Safarova snapped her five-match losing streak in 2016 this week in Prague. Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Coming back from recuperation from a bacterial infection suffered at the end of 2015, Safarova needed time to finally find some form. She lost her first five matches but finally broke the duck this week with a hard-fought three-set win over Colombian Mariana Duque-Mariño. She then sailed past compatriot Lucie Hradecka (via retirement) and Hsieh Su-wei to book her place in the semifinals. The second seed will be looking to reach her first final since New Haven last August.

Head-to-head

The Safarova-Pliskova head-to-head as displayed on WTA's website.
The Safarova-Pliskova head-to-head as displayed on WTA's website.

Both Czechs have met four times on the tour with the younger Pliskova winning thrice. Their first clash came here in Prague when it hosted an ITF tournament back in 2012 which Safarova won in straight sets. However, Pliskova has risen up significantly since then and faced no problems beating the 29-year-old Safarova in their last three encounters with their last two matches going to a decider.

Pliskova was victorious over Safarova in Stuttgart last week en route to the quarterfinals. She sent her compatriot out in the first round in a close match.

Analysis

Pliskova will look to assert her good form this week. Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.
Pliskova will look to assert her good form this week. Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Pliskova did not waste much time in all her matches prior to this match-up and will look to continue her winning streak in Prague and get one step closer to defending her title. If the Czech keeps up her form as she has shown this week, another routine win over Safarova does not seem far-fetched.

On the other hand, Safarova should be high on confidence and belief now having won three matches in a row for the first time since New Haven last year. Enduring a five-match losing streak and finally being able to win matches this week could work wonders for the former world number five. It is plausible for Safarova to give the defending champion some trouble at first but ultimately Pliskova should settle in and eventually overpower her opponent and march on to the final. 

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova in three sets

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