Karolina Pliskova has further enhanced her Brisbane International record and moved within a win of a second title a high-quality semi-final win over Donna Vekic on Saturday night.
The 2017 champion was appearing in her third straight Brisbane semi-final and put in her finest showing of the tournament to see off the 22-year-old, 6-3 6-4.
It books a Sunday title match showdown with unseeded Lesia Tsurenko after the Ukrainian’s earlier upset of No.2 seed Naomi Osaka.
“I think so far (it was) my best match,” Pliskova said.
“I was moving pretty well today, and of course the serve has been great all week.
“Donna’s a tough opponent, so I knew I had to improve from last night,” she said, referring to her 6-1 1-6 6-1 defeat of Australian Ajla Tomjlanovic.
A champion in Brisbane two years ago, Pliskova boasts the third-best winning percentage in the Brisbane tournament’s history with 12 wins and just two losses.
“So far that’s my best match,” a happy Karolina Pliskova says.
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 5, 2019
The 26-year-old made 70 per cent of her first serves, while Vekic managed just 47 per cent of hers in the first set.
Vekic’s serve improved in the second set but the pressure told in the fifth game, with a double fault – one of seven for the match –handing Pliskova another break.
But the Croatian was not about to fade quietly after conceding a second straight break of serve in the second set.
She maintained her aggression to save three set points on serve at 3-5, before the Czech closed out the contest after 81 minutes.
Pliskova finished with an impressive 30 winners to 17 unforced errors compared to her opponent’s 25 winners and 24 unforced errors.
A win on Sunday would see her become the third woman to win two Brisbane titles following Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
“It’s going to be tough,” Pliskova said of the battle that awaits on Pat Rafter Arena.
“She’s beaten top players here, I’m expecting a tough one.”