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By Tennis Now | Friday, September 22, 2017

Grand Slam champions continued their forward march in Tokyo.

In a battle of former world No. 1 players, Angelique Kerber hit timely counterstrikes toppling second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, 7-6 (5), 7-5, to reach the final four.

Date: No Coaching Plans

The match was a rematch of the 2016 US Open, which Kerber won 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

In her first tournament since bowing to Naomi Osaka in the US Open opening round, Kerber advanced to her third semifinal of the season and first since she made the Monterrey final in April.

“I'm feeling good," Kerber said. "Being back in the semis here in Tokyo is a great feeling. It's always tough to play against [Pliskova], so I was trying to focus on my game. I think I played a good match today."

Kerber will face the woman who beat her in that Monterrey final, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, for a spot in the Tokyo final.

Pavlyuchenkova powered to her third straight three-set win rallying past Barbora Strycova, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Pliskova saved three break points holding for 3-2.

In the tie break, Kerber was several feet behind the baseline when she cracked a backhand pass crosscourt for 4-2. On her second set point, Kerber closed on a Pliskova double fault into the tape—one of eight double faults on the day for the WTA ace leader.

Hitting behind Pliskova, the two-time Grand Slam champion opened the court for drives down the line.

On her fifth match point, Kerber dug out a low backhand and lashed a crosscourt reply into the corner closing in one hour, 49 minutes.

“I've learned a lot from this year," Kerber said. "How to have the pressure, and get used to it. Now I just go out there and try to play good matches and focus on winning matches."

World No. 1 GarbiƱe Muguruza did not face a break point dismissing Caroline Garcia, 6-2, 6-4, in 81 minutes.

Aiming for her sixth career singles title, the Wimbledon champion will play defending champion Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the final.

Wozniacki led fifth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, 3-6, 7-5, 3-1 when the Slovak retired with injury.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza has won three of five meetings with Wozniacki though the Dane prevailed in three sets in their lone Tokyo meetings in 2014.


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