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Final preview: Pliskova locked in for Keys clash

11 January 2020, by Dan Imhoff

Karolina Pliskova is building a reputation as a match-point saving maestro on Australian soil.

On Saturday night, the two-time Brisbane International champion fended one off at the brink to deny third seed Naomi Osaka in an epic near three-hour semi-final showdown.

It was sweet revenge following a tough three-set defeat at the same stage of last year’s Australian Open.

On that day the Japanese star emerged triumphant and went on to secure her second straight Grand Slam title.

For Pliskova, it was a bitter defeat having fought off four match points to stun Serena Williams in the quarter-finals.

The Czech will be determined to back up her most recent match-point saving effort when she meets American Madison Keys for the first time in Sunday’s Brisbane final.

“Actually it’s strange I think Madison is the only one from the top players which I’ve never played so its’ going to be interesting,” the defending champion said.

“But I saw her playing many times so for sure it’s going to be a great match and we can both enjoy.”

Eighth seed Keys scored her fourth win in seven meetings with 2011 champion Petra Kvitova to reach her 10th career final earlier on Saturday.

The pair had not met in more than 3.5 years and it was Keys who proved the steadier of the two, rebounding from a set and a break down to prevail.

The 24-year-old won titles in Charleston and Cincinnati last year and stands to win her third straight final on Sunday.

“It’s always great to start the year playing some really good tennis,” Keys said. “I’ve definitely started the year playing some really terrible tennis, so it’s nice to be on this side of things for once.

“Karolina has been No.1 in the world, she is the ace queen, so there is a lot of challenges.”

In the women’s doubles final, Queensland’s own Ashleigh Barty and Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens will attempt to bring down top seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova.

Brisbane marks Barty’s and Berten’s first event playing together and they will have their work cut out against the reigning Wimbledon champions.

Victory at the All England Club last year was Hsieh’s and Strycova’s first Grand Slam doubles title together. Hsieh had previously won two majors with Peng Shuai.

Barty was the 2018 US Open doubles champion with CoCo Vandeweghe.