Karolina Pliskova has cast aside a horror second set and kept a hopeful home crowd at bay, ending the run of the last remaining Australian woman, Ajla Tomljanovic, to reach the Brisbane International semi-finals.
The 2017 champion booked a clash with Croatian Donna Vekic with a topsy-turvy 6-1 1-6 6-1 triumph on Friday night.
It will be her third straight Brisbane International semi-final appearance.
“I feel like the serve is working here. It’s pretty fast. So the game is working,” Pliskova said. “I felt always good here, also before I won the title here.
“So I had great matches. I remember beating [Victoria] Azarenka here, [it] was one of my best matches. Somehow I feel [it]always from the start when I come here.”
Tomljanovic was left searching for answers as she failed to make inroads early on against the free-swinging Czech on Pat Rafter Arena.
The final four beckons again.
Karolina Pliskova weathers a mid-match slump to beat Tomljanovic 6-1 1-6 6-1
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 4, 2019
Tomjlanovic, 25, would have moved inside the world’s top 40 for the first time had she progressed to the semi-final.
That looked a distant prospect in a 28-minute first set though, as the Czech star bullied Tomljanovic’s serve and looked to be cruising in second gear.
But a pep talk from her coach, Goran Prpic, after conceding the opening set at the 26-minute mark sparked a dramatic turnaround for Tomljanovic.
With a packed stadium cheering her on, it was just the nerve-leveller Tomljanovic needed as she reeled off five straight games before Pliskova could get on the board.
She rifled a crosscourt forehand passing shot to level the match at a set apiece.
Displaying the poise that had taken her to the world No.1 ranking, Pliskova immediately turned the match on its head in the third set.
She finished with 27 winners and 16 unforced errors compared to Tomljanovic’s 19 and 29 respectively.
“I tried a little bit to move a little bit more, to be a little bit faster with my reactions, and just to not give her that many points free, just to serve better as I was serving in the first set and just to hold,” Pliskova said.
“I just know if I’m solid I can beat her. I was pretty confident with myself anyway. Like the second set was bad, but I was pretty confident coming into the third set.”