The second all-top-10 match-up of 2018 pits Elina Svitolina against defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the Brisbane International semifinals. Both players have met each other at this stage before and have always done well in this city, so who will prevail in this exciting match-up? Read on for the preview…
Brisbane International Semifinals
 Elina Svitolina (No.6) vs  Karolina Pliskova (No.4)
Elina Svitolina’s Brisbane International draw has been just a nightmare but she has passed the tests with flying colours. The Ukranian first beat Carla Suarez Navarro in a near-perfect straight-sets performance (read match preview HERE) and dismantled Ana Konjuh in just 64 minutes. Playing Jo Konta in the quarterfinals was always going to be more difficult though, and it showed as Svitolina played a flat first set. She improved though as she started to hit bigger and went after Konta’s second serves, managing to force a tiebreak. Getting more first serves than her opponent in the seven-point shootout was all Svitolina needed to set up a couple of set points, and she duly converted as Konta sent a backhand into the net at the end. Konta soon had to retire down in the third set, but it was a fun affair with both players definitely contenders for the Australian Open title (considering Konta stays injury-free).
Karolina Pliskova had a much easier route on paper to the Brisbane semifinals, but if you see the scorelines then you would know it didn’t turn out to be that simple. After a second round bye, the World No.4 dismantled Catherine Bellis for the loss of two games, but needed three sets to get past the qualifier and former champion Kaia Kanepi. Pliskova had no answers to Kanepi’s big hitting in the first set, and was even two points away from losing the match. However, in typical Pliskova style, she swatted away a customary ace and increased her level from that moment, winning the last eight of 10 games to secure a spot in the last 4.
Head to head: Pliskova leads the head to head 5-1, and on hard courts 3-0, with wins coming in last year’s Brisbane semifinals too, and in Wuhan and Zhuhai. Svitolina though won their most recent encounter in Rome, though that was on clay, Pliskova’s worst surface.
Stat: Both players had super successful seasons last year, and especially on the hard courts – Svitolina amassed a 34-9 record, while Pliskova had a tidy 39-12 win-loss record too.
Thoughts: This is the classic offense vs defense match-up, though Svitolina has definitely improved her offense game, trying to take the balls early and play with much more pace. Pliskova has always struggled against counter-punchers but Svitolina is surprisingly not one of the players that she finds it tough against. Because of the commanding head to head, and the extra match practice that she would have gotten against Kanepi, I believe Pliskova will be ready and motivated for this one to reach her first final of 2018.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova d. Elina Svitolina in two sets
Brisbane predictions are here, you can find them at the menu at the top of the blog as well. Thanks for reading! 🙂