#3 Karolina Pliskova came into her quarterfinal match against Australia’s Ashleigh Barty having played what she called her best match of the year in the previous round. She faced stiffer competition today as the two women comfortably held serve for most of the first set. Pliskova leads the women with the most aces served this year, and she added 5 more to the tally in the first set, never facing a break point. Barty had 2 aces of her own, but faltered ever so slightly serving at 4-4. Pliskova capitalized on that single break chance which was enough to take the set, 6-4. In the second, both women remained solid on serve, sending the set into a tie-break. Barty, ranked #37 in singles but #12 in doubles, pressed the issue by coming to net on multiple occasions, earning herself the tie-break.
Where breaks of serve had been so rare in the first two sets, they came fast and furious in the decider. Barty's strategy of hugging the baseline and depriving Pliskova of time by taking balls on the rise began paying off, earning the Australian a break in the very first game. Players would trade breaks again, with Barty holding three match points while serving at 5-4. With a place in the semifinals so tantalizing close, the 21-year-old showed signs of nerves, hitting two tense forehands into the net, interspersed with scintillating winners by Pliskova to level the match. In the tie-break, it would be Pliskova who was the tighter of the two, sending shots well over the baseline and serving up a final double fault to give the match to Barty, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2). It was “really close, one or two points, but I think she was just more aggressive,” Pliskova said after the match. “In the end of the sets, she was just going for her shots, which I was not able to make because in tie-breaks I didn't hit any first serves. That's the biggest problem.” She added: “Credit to her. I think she played one of the best matches.”
Barty had to quickly regroup as she and partner Casey Dellacqua were soon back on court, taking on the #5 pairing of Yifan Xu and Gabriela Dabrowski. Thankfully for the Australians, they won in just over an hour, sending Barty to the semis in both singles and doubles where they’ll face the unseeded team of Zhaoxuan Yang of China and Shuko Aoyama of Japan who advanced when Ekaterina Makarova and partner Elena Vesnina retired after only five games in their quarterfinal match.
The semis from the bottom half of the draw will feature world #20 Caroline Garcia taking on qualifier Maria Sakkari. Sakkari denied an all-French semifinal by defeating Alize Cornet in two close sets while Garcia dispatched Ekaterina Makarova. “I want to play this kind of match that I work outside the court for,” Garcia said after the match. “There is a lot of intensity. That's a match you enjoy the most actually. There is fighting, there is stress, there is everything. In this kind of match you learn the most. You take experience. I'm just very happy. I stayed very calm through the match, and it was very important.”
In doubles action, 3 of the top 4 seeds made it through to the semifinals.
Still smarting from a three-set loss to #6 Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke a few months ago at Wimbledon, the #1 pairing of Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan Chan were all business as they played their quarterfinal match. The #1 seeds looked sharp from the first ball, outplaying their opponents in every category. The Swiss – Taiwanese team smothered the net on returns and came out on top in the occasional exciting exchange at net, but were most impressive on serve where they didn’t allow their opponents a single break opportunity. Even when they had to hit second serves, the #1 seeds won 8 of 9 points on their way to a crushing 6-1, 6-0 victory in just 43 minutes. They’ll face #3 India’s Sania Mirza and China’s Shuai Peng who won twice on Thursday to make it into the semis.