No.3 seed Johanna Konta withstood an impressive challenge from Kristyna Pliskova to advance into the semifinals of the Shenzhen Open.
WTA Staff

SHENZHEN, China - No.3 seed Johanna Konta won a second straight three-setter on Thursday, surviving a tough test from Kristyna Pliskova, 6-4, 6-7(11), 6-3, to reach the semfiinals of the Shenzhen Open.

In a battle of big servers, the two women hit a combined 22 aces during the two-hour, 12-minute match. Konta hit one fewer ace than her opposition in the opening set, but clinched the only break of serve to take the early advantage.

"It's a well known fact that she and her sister are two of the best servers on tour, so I knew going into the match that I would have a tough challenge on her service games," she said in her post-match press conference. "I tried to neutralize her first and second serves as much as possible to try and get myself into those games, and work very hard to create some chances."

Pliskova began her ascent last fall, winning a WTA 125K Series event in Dalian before winning her first WTA title at the Tashkent Open. Undaunted, the Czech youngster saved two match points in the second set tie-break to level the match on her fifth set-point opportunity.

Asked how she recovered from the disappointment of losing the second, Konta reminded those in the press room that she had little choice to do anything else.

"I think it was more of a case of just having to recover from it. The match was still going and I still had just as much of a chance of coming through - even after a tough second set tie-break. I don't think I did much wrong; she played very well on the match points. I did my best to stay present and keep fighting."

Konta stemmed Pliskova's momentum early in the decider, saving a pair of break points in the opening game only to break serve herself five games later, serving out the match in a titanic finale.

Up next for the British No.1 is Katerina Siniakova, who backed up her upset win over No.2 seed Simona Halep by knocking out Nina Stojanovic, 6-3. 6-4.

"My pre-season was very tough and I worked very hard, but the work is ongoing. It's not just during the pre-season; it's the whole year. I've done a good job of competing from first ball in my first match. I'm enjoying playing, and being back at an event and competing. I'll do my best to stay here as long as possible.

"The way you do in the first week of the year is no way a reflection of how you'll do the rest of the season. I'm just really happy to have played three really tough but also different matches. I'm glad to have gotten to compete so much so far."