In the opening match on day four, Karolina Pliskova took on Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both came through tough three sets wins previously and a win would put them in prime position to qualify out of the white group. Pliskova got off to a good start to take the first set but the Russian bounced back to force a decider. The Czech almost pulled off another comeback win after trailing for most parts in the third set but Kuznetsova showed grit and came through in the tiebreak to record a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(6) victory.
Pliskova takes the first set
After a first few comfortable holds, it was the Russian’s serve which was put under pressure first in the fourth game. Pliskova had a triple break point chance and a loose shot from the Russian on the second gave the Czech a 3-1 lead. Kuznetsova put that poor game behind to hang on to her serve and keep herself in the set.
The Russian got her chance to find the break back after a rare double fault from the Czech in the eighth game. Even though Pliskova fended off the break point, she was not getting first serves in and this allowed Kuznetsova to attack second serves and create another opportunity to break. The Czech just overcooked her shot as she approached the net, handing the break back to Kuznetsova.
However, the Russian had another tight service game with errors gifting the Czech with another triple break point. With her back against the wall, Kuznetsova managed to save all three but an untimely double fault cost her the game and gave Pliskova the opportunity to close out the set, which the Czech does in convincing fashion to seal the first set 6-3.
Kuznetsova fights back
Pliskova began the second set with a break but could not hold on to it as Kuznetsova broke right back to level 1-1. The Czech continued to struggle to find her first serves and despite holding a 40-0 lead in the fourth game, she was pegged back to deuce after some loose forehands and a couple more wild shots gave the Russian the break and a 3-1 lead.
Kuznetsova fought off break point in the next game with an ace before consolidating the break for a 4-1 advantage. The Russian never really looked back from there and Pliskova could not find a way through and her serve was broken once more as Kuznetsova wrapped up the set 6-2.
Topsy turvy third set goes right down to the wire
The penultimate final set saw a whopping eight breaks as both struggled to hold on to their serve. Kuznetsova jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Pliskova got the break back for 1-2. However, the Czech was unable to play her game always forced to hit backhands rather than her go to shots from her forehand side and that cost her the game as Kuznetsova raced off to 4-1. Pliskova eventually held serve for the first time in the set and that seemed to do the trick as the Czech found an extra gear to break the Russian’s serve to close the deficit to 3-4.
The set was starting to heat up and Pliskova faced a couple of break points as she tried to get the match back on level terms. An ace followed by a tussle at the net allowed her to save both of the points. There were some great shot making by both but a crunching return winner from the Russian gave her another opportunity but Kuznetsova just missed the line. The game was not over though as the Russian kept the pressure and found the break with another thumping down the line return winner.
Serving for the set at 5-3, it was the Czech coming up with the goods, taking the game with a sweet backhand winner before holding on to her own serve to level the set 5-5. The momentum seemed to have swung Pliskova’s way and some solid play gave her three chances to break. The Czech needed just the one though, notching her third straight game to nose ahead for 6-5. The match, though was far from over, as nerves caught up with the Czech even though she was just a couple of points away from the win, with the Russian seemingly finding strength from within winning four straight points to bring the match to a tiebreak.
Kuznetsova got the mini-break following a double fault from Pliskova and hung on to it all the way to set up three match points at 6-3. The Czech did what she had to do winning both points on her serve to force the Russian to serve for the match. However, Pliskova’s angled forehand shot pulled the Russian wide and she could only send the shot back into the net as the tiebreak leveled at 6-6. Kuznetsova had another match point after a timely one-two punch and this time Pliskova had no answer though on her serve as the Russian hammered a beauty of a backhand winner to seal the match.