Karolina Pliskova will chase a third Brisbane International title in four years after saving a match point in a titanic semi-final victory over Naomi Osaka on Saturday night.
The pair served mightily in a high-quality contest, which the world No.2 Pliskova won 6-7(10) 7-6(3) 6-2. The Czech will play Madison Keys for the first time for a chance to add to her 2017 and 2019 triumphs.
The two hour, 51-minute battle on Saturday night looked all but over well before that when world No.4 and defending Australian Open champion Osaka broke for the first time for a 6-5 lead in the second set.
But, after winning an engrossing first-set tie-break, she couldn’t convert a match point and tightened up to hand back the break and the set.
Pliskova felt the momentum shift after fighting back from the brink.
“Actually, yes, but still it was not over because it was a tie-break and I lost the first one, so I thought it was still kind of open,” Pliskova said.
“But I definitely felt I played a great game on that 6-all, so it was maybe my energy was maybe a little bit more up, and I also had nothing to lose because the worst case I would go [back to the] locker room.
.@KaPliskova shifts into overdrive to outplay Osaka 6-7(10) 7-6(3) 6-2 and book her spot in Sunday’s final.
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 11, 2020
“But after that I think I was just mentally much more stronger and up and physically maybe too, so I felt I’m not going to lose the third set.”
Pliskova controlled the decider but there was one final twist when Osaka saved two match points before Pliskova finally ended the tussle with another unreturnable serve.
The pair served 29 aces between them and had brutal baseline rallies in a contest befitting a final.
That will come on Sunday for the Czech, though, against in-form American Keys who had rallied from a set and break down to beat Petra Kvitova.
“I think it’s great that there is still somebody which I didn’t face,” Pliskova said of facing Keys.
“I think she was also playing quite good tennis here, she’s playing very aggressive, so it’s going to be I think similar to today, so I need to just stay in there and waiting for my chances.”