In a service-dominated match between home favourite Caroline Garcia and second seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals of the French Open, Pliskova made use of all her opportunities to seal the victory after a little less than two hours of play, progressing to her first ever Roland Garros semifinal, placing herself just one win away from the top spot in the rankings.
Pliskova steals the first set
Garcia came into the match firing despite hitting some errors as she carved a nervy hold of service in the opening game to get the perfect start. However, Pliskova proved that she could do better when she put in some strong serves to earn the comfortable service hold, performing much better as compared to her win against Veronica Cepede Royg in the fourth round.
Nerves from playing in front of her home crowd seemed to affect Garcia in the early stages as her forehand looked shaky at times, with three unforced errors coming off that wing to gift Pliskova the first break of serve in the match, allowing the Czech to take a 2-1 lead. Fighting off some tough resistance from the French, Pliskova managed to consolidate the break by holding her serve. Determined to recover from the deficit, Garcia held her serve easily to keep the scoreline close and was just one game away from catching up with the world number three on the scoreboard.
It soon became a serve-dominated contest as both players were unthreatened in their service games before Pliskova threw away a 40-0 lead in the eighth game but still managed to hold serve after Garcia hit a big forehand drive volley straight into the net, missing the golden opportunity to break serve.
This placed her just one game away from winning the first set, and Garcia had to be burdened by the pressure of her having to serve to stay in the set. The pressure became evident on the scoreboard as Pliskova earned a set point with the help of Garcia’s unforced errors, but the Frenchwoman eventually calmed herself down and sealed the nervy service game with an ace on game point, forcing the Czech to serve the set out.
Some strong returns saw Garcia earn her first break point of the match while Pliskova was serving the set out, showing some signs of nerves there. However, a volley by Pliskova luckily hit a net cord and caught the underdog off-guard, allowing the Czech to get back to deuce. Nevertheless, Garcia stepped up and continued to attack the vulnerable second serves of Pliskova, coming up with an impressive return winner on her second break point to grab the break back and level the scores after all the hassle.
The eleventh game was much of a test for both players as they were interlocked at deuce multiple times, before Garcia managed to fend off two break points to hold serve at the crucial moment, taking a 6-5 lead in the first set. Despite getting to deuce, Garcia was still unable to earn a set point as Pliskova managed to hold onto her service game to send the set into a tiebreak.
The Czech then took a double mini-break in the tiebreak, being in complete control as she owned a 4-1 lead and was just three points away from closing it out. After a marathon 74 minutes of play, Pliskova finally sealed the first set after a strong backhand winner on her second set point placed her just one set away from her first ever Roland Garros semifinal appearance.
Garcia crumbles to the pressure
Pliskova then dug herself out of a 0-30 deficit in the opening game of the second set to hold her serve, making the perfect start. The second set looked much tighter on the scoreboard as neither of them was able to make a real breakthrough, with Pliskova saving a break point in the third game to remain level on serve. With both players being huge servers and hard-hitters, this set became a serve-dominated affair as only one single break point surfaced, with Garcia being unable to convert the golden opportunity to get the lead.
That third game ultimately proved to be pivotal as Garcia found herself serving to stay in the match at 4-5, and looked to have crumbled to the pressure after falling 0-30 down. A perfectly placed lob then helped Pliskova earn her first match point, which she eventually converted after hitting a forehand winner to seal the win after 1 hour and 51 minutes, booking her place in her first ever Roland Garros semifinal.