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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday July 8, 2021

 
Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova produced pitch-perfect serving down the stretch to take out Aryna Sabalenka in Thursday's second Wimbledon semifinal.

Photo Source: Getty

Karolina Pliskova has struggled to find her game since tennis restarted last August, but this week at Wimbledon she is living up to her promise as one of the WTA Tour’s premier power players.

On Saturday she could become a Grand Slam champion...

Tennis Express

Pliskova cracked 14 aces and hammered another 13 forehand winners to outgun Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in a battle of bomb servers on Thursday, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, and the Czech will take her place in the Wimbledon final alongside World No.1 Ashleigh Barty.

It has been an eye-opening tournament for Pliskova, who reaches her first Grand Slam final since the 2016 US Open, and her first Wimbledon final. The Czech had never been beyond the round of 16 at Wimbledon, and had not gone past the third round at a Slam since the start of 2020.

But over the last ten days in London she has found her menacing game, and made life extremely difficult on all comers.

Today on Centre Court, facing her toughest challenge of the fortnight, she needed mental resolve to get it done. Pliskova failed to convert on eight break points in the opening set then dropped the set on a double-fault in the 12th game. But she was able to recover and win her final ten service games of the match, never facing a break point in sets two and three.

“I was super pissed about that because I thought I had so many chances in the first set,” Pliskova said. “It's not like I would do something really wrong. I thought especially the last game I could do much better. Not only the double-fault. I had two easy shots early in the game.

"I think I was too much, getting frustrated about that I didn't make the chances which I had on her serve because I had maybe, I don't know, seven breakpoints or maybe even more.”

Pliskova dominated the baseline against Sabalenka, winning 18 of 25 points that lasted more than four shots, and gradually took the air out of the Belarusian’s bubble. The match was close the whole way, but Pliskova gained an early edge in the second and third set and did not surrender the lead.

"I think her serves was a big challenge for me today," Sabalenka said. "I felt like I had opportunities in the second set when she was -- I don't remember exactly game, maybe second or third when she was serving and she didn't make first serve for four points. I didn't return her second serves."

Pliskova, who is coached by Sascha Bajin, says she is in a state of disbelief about the success she has had this week. She had never been past the round of 16 at Wimbledon before, and on her first six appearances she did not make it past round two.

“I think still half like I can't believe it because somehow, coming into this tournament, the dream was to make the second week,” she said. “Of course, because I was not in the second week for a while. Never I thought about, like, maybe going into the final.

“Sascha was super confident in me. He said, ‘I told you you were going to make the final.’” “To win two sets in a row with the way how she was serving today, I think she was serving incredible, all my chances she just put, like, amazing serves in. “Super proud about the way how I handled the situation out there, the second and third set, and that I served out the match.”

 

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