In Doha, Swiatek and Rybakina meet, Pliskova and Pavlyuchenkova invite themselves

The WTA 1000 in Doha is in its final four. If the presences of Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina were expected, those of Anatasia Pavlyuchenkova and the resurgent Karolina Pliskova were necessarily a little less so.

At 32, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (32nd in the world) reached the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 for the first time since Madrid 2021. Opposed to the American Danielle Collins, Thursday in the quarter-finals, the Russian, finalist at Roland-Garros in 2021, did things opportunely, notably converting his four break points to win in two sets (7-5, 6-4).

Rybakina renversante

She will face in the semi-finals the Kazakhstani and 4th in the world, Elena Ribakyna, who was able to turn around a story that got off to a bad start against Leylah Fernandez (6-4, 6-2). Trailing 4-1, double break against her, Rybakina then chained six games in a row to win the first set and start the second well.

With a break validated at 3-2 in the second set on a backhand passing that remained in the Canadian’s band, the winner of Wimbledon 2022 then quietly sped towards the half, sheltered behind her first service ball (6 aces and 79% of points behind).

At the top of the table, the two quarter-finals had the remarkable distinction of bringing together four players who had once ranked first in the world! It was first of all the current boss of women’s tennis, Iga Swiatek, who took out the 34-year-old “old-timer”, Victoria Azarenka (6-4, 6-0).

In the fight in the first set, the Belarusian held her own and the opposition had strength, each player having had the opportunity to pull away. But it was Swiatek who was rampant at 4-4, behind a long-line backhand winner and a double fault from Azarenka.

With the first set in his pocket, Swiatek freed himself completely and really hurt Azarenka with his devilishly effective backhand. A break at the start of the second set and then a terrible storm hit the Belarusian, for a 6-0 in 32 minutes! Double title holder, the Pole now remains on 21 sets won in a row in Doha, before facing the resurgent Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals.

Pliskova solid

On Thursday, the Czech (59th) still did not slow down and scored a ninth success in ten days, following her coronation in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, last week! However, Naomi Osaka entered this quarter-final in full force. The 747th at the WTA now was the more incisive of the two, but she left quite a few out of the way at the start of the match (6 unforced errors in four games). The Czech, for her part, was more in tune with her game. The debates remained balanced until six points everywhere in the tie-break, where a forehand fault from Osaka followed by an uncrossed forehand from Pliskova offered the first set in the Czech.

Valiant and resilient, Pliskova made up one more break behind at the start of the second set to return to 2-2. The standoff was terrible. Osaka dismissed a first match point on her serve at 5-4, then another at 6-5 against her to push the story into a second tie-break. But it was “Plisko”, again, who showed his muscles, linking up a cross forehand and a winning service to invite himself into the Qatari final square.


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