No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic is into her third WTA singles final of the season, easing past No.1 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-4 in the Omnium Banque Nationale semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
"Amazing feeling to be in another final this year," Pliskova told the pressafter her win. "I think I was super solid today. Just did everything what I was supposed to do to win this match. Played smart. My serve was pretty good, I have to say."
After dropping her first two meetings with Sabalenka, the World No.6 Pliskova has now leveled their head-to-head by winning their past two matches. This includes a come-from-behind victory in the Wimbledon semifinals last month, which propelled Pliskova into the second Grand Slam final of her career.
Pliskova charged back from a break down in the second set to clinch the victory after an hour and 21 minutes of play. Sabalenka leads Pliskova in the ace race this season, but Pliskova, who led the WTA in that statistic in 2015-2017 and 2019, out-aced Sabalenka by 10 to five.
Overall, it was a composed display by Pliskova, who converted four of her eight break points and collected a solid two-thirds of points returning Sabalenka's second serve.
"I think I just used my brain maybe a bit more," Pliskova said with a laugh. "It's not that I would really play amazing tennis here because every day was a bit windy. I keep having completely different opponents, playing super slow to super fast. I kind of accepted maybe it's not going to be the nicest way how I win this match. So I didn't try to go for crazy winners."
By defeating 3rd-ranked Sabalenka, the former World No.1 Pliskova is slated to re-enter the Top 5 of the WTA singles rankings on Monday. Pliskova has won 12 of her past 14 matches. However, even with the loss, Sabalenka is still the match-win leader on the WTA this season, with 38.
Despite a number of long games in the first set, the score line broke Pliskova’s way in the opening frame behind two breaks of serve. The Czech played a cleaner set with 12 winners to just four unforced errors.
A rally backhand winner gave Sabalenka an early break at 4-3 in the second set, but two double faults in the next game by the Belarusian allowed Pliskova to pull back on serve immediately. After holding for 5-4 with her 10th ace, Pliskova slammed a powerful return on her second match point in the following game to wrap up the win.
"I believed in the things which we were doing in the beginning of the year, and we still keep doing them, so it's not about winning or losing, but if you still continue doing these things, I believe the results and the success are going to come," Pliskova said. "We keep doing that. It's not like it would be super lucky that I just started to play well. I think it's a process."