TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – No.5 seed Kristyna Pliskova eased into the semifinals of the Tashkent Open thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No.1 seed Viktoria Kuzmova.
Pliskova, a winner in Tashkent in 2016, was seeking to advance to the final four at a tournament for the first time since Lugano against an opponent she had never met previously, and led right from the outset, playing with a deadly combination of power an accuracy.
Both players had spent more than two hours on court in the last 16, but it was the Czech who was quicker to shake off the rust, breaking in the first game, which proved to be the only time the server would falter in the opening set.
After facing two break points in the opening game of the match, the WTA World No.80 would not face another throughout the match. This was testimony to her excellent serving, with Pliskova hitting a high percentage of first serves throughout.
Kuzmova, meanwhile, was out of sorts. Too many balls escaped the lines by narrow margins, while she four times had to face down points to avoid dropping a double break down in the opener. Though the Slovak was successful in this aim, Pliskova comfortably held out.
"I felt good today with my win, as I had lost few close matches in the last few weeks," Pliskova said after the match. "I surely served better and was able to catch Kuzmova on the wrong foot.
"I played my best match here so far, and the conditions in Tashkent suit me."
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The World No.56, who was playing her first tournament since reaching the semifinals in the US Open doubles, briefly managed to get her nose in front in the second set, holding to love, but once she was broken in the third game, the momentum was firmly with her opponent.
Indeed, Pliskova stormed to five successive games before the rot was briefly paused. Kuzmova even got a break back, saving two match points in the process, but she had left herself too much to do as Pliskova sealed the victory when she next had the balls in hand.
She will next face No. 3 seed Alison Van Uytvanck, the highest seed remaining, in the semifinals as she seeks to make a third WTA final.
The Belgian beat France's Pauline Parmentier in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
On the other half of the draw, No.8 seed Sorana Cirstea overcame Danka Kovinic, 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 in two hours and 24 minutes to reach the semis, where she will tackle World No.142 Katarina Zavatska, who eased past Anna Kalinskaya, 6-0, 6-2.
"It was good quality match, and Kovinic served well," Cirstea, another former champion in Tashkent in 2008, said. "I found myself in a little tight position in the second set, but managed to get back from 2-5 to 5-5. Even though I lost the set, I found my rhythm again in the third.
"I have never seen my opponent at other tournaments but have seen her play for the first time in Tashkent. If she's made it to the semifinals, that means she is great shape and form, and I will be looking forward to a contest tomorrow."