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Pliskova vs Swiatek tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Kristyna Pliskova faces 17-year-old sensation at Samsung Open

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 13 Apr 2019
  • Kristyna Pliskova faces Iga Swiatek in the semifinals of the Samsung Open
  • Pliskova vs Swiatek is live from Lugano on Saturday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST
Kristyna Pliskova (PA Sport)

In a bid to reach her first WTA Tour final for almost two years, Kristyna Pliskova takes on teenage Polish sensation Iga Swiatek in Lugano on Saturday. 

An intriguing Samsung Open semifinal sees big-serving, left-handed Kristyna Pliskova take on 17-year-old Pole Iga Swiatek for a place in the Lugano final.

The first WTA Tour event of the year held on European clay has been hit by rain and suffered the surprise exit of all of its seeds, but it’s ended up with a pair of very fascinating semifinals.

Kristyna Pliskova
Pliskova, the lower-ranked, left-handed twin sister of world no. 4 Karolina, was once considered the more promising of the two sisters and was ranked as high as world no. 35 in July 2017 after having won her sole WTA Tour title in Tashkent the previous September, and reaching her second WTA Tour final in Prague in May, beating Jelena Ostapenko (who would shortly go on to win the French Open) before losing to Mona Barthel in the final.

But Pliskova hasn’t reached a WTA Tour semifinal since. She failed to defend her Tashkent title in 2017, losing in the second round to Nao Hibino. And in 2018, although she had some great results – she made the quarterfinals in Nurnberg, Prague, Shenzhen and Charleston, and beat Petra Kvitova and Julia Goerges – her overall win-loss record was just 26-27. 

So far in 2019, Pliskova has struggled – unsuccessfully – to keep from falling out of the top 100, and even the good fortune of inheriting a bye into the second round in Doha as a lucky loser didn’t help. She’s lost four matches to players ranked outside the top 100, and came into Lugano ranked world no. 101 despite quarterfinal finishes at the WTA 125k events in Guadalajara and Indian Wells.

After beating wildcard Ylena In Albon and Antonia Lottner – who had ousted top seed Belinda Bencic – in Lugano, however, Pliskova put in an impressive performance against Svetlana Kuznetsova. The two-time Grand Slam champion was playing her first tournament since the previous August due to injury, but remains a phenomenal player who had beaten Timea Bacsinszky in a high-quality match in the previous round, and Pliskova had to regroup after losing a first set which featured five breaks of serve. Both women played much better in the second set, but it was Pliskova who came out on top, thanks to much-improved serving. 

Pliskova saved five break points in a single service game early in the third set, and broke immediately afterwards herself to lead 2-1. Kuznetsova would erase that break for 4-4, but when both were under extreme pressure it was Pliskova who was able to produce the goods on serve, stopping the run of games against her, breaking Kuznetsova a final time and serving out the 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory.

Pliskova served at a no more than respectable 58% and her ten aces were to some extent cancelled out by her five double faults, although the majority of the latter came in the first set and most of the former in the second and third. But she won over 70% of points behind her first serve and 47% of points behind her second – not bad against a returner like Kuznetsova – and the way that she improved her serving and played with more conviction in the second and third sets, as well as not allowing herself to be rattled by Kuznetsova’s surging back, bodes well. 

If it’s been a while since Pliskova has been in a WTA Tour semifinal, this is totally uncharted territory for Iga Swiatek.

Iga Swiatek
The 17-year-old Pole, who won the Wimbledon junior title last year, had only played a handful of pro events before 2018 and this time last year was ranked a lowly world no. 692. Swiatek compiled a stunning 37-6 win-loss record on the ITF circuit in 2018, winning four titles – a $15k, a $25k and two $50ks – to climb from world no. 725 at the start of the season to world no. 298 by its end.

Now Swiatek looks guaranteed to break into the top 100, if not next week, the very soon after – just the fourth player born in the 2000s to do so on the WTA Tour. She successfully qualified for the Australian Open and reached the second round with a win over Ana Bogdan before losing to Camila Giorgi; she qualified for Budapest and reached the second round there, too, with a win over Olga Danilovic. Swiatek fell in qualifying for Indian Wells and Miami to Ysaline Bonaventure and Sachia Vickery respectively, but her ranking had risen enough that she didn’t need to qualify for Lugano – and she has taken full advantage of main-draw entry, defeating qualifier Katarina Zatavska, world no. 46 Vitkoria Kuzmova and eighth seed Vera Lapko (another talented young player) to make the first WTA Tour semifinal of her career.

Swiatek made the brighter start, but was reeled in by Lapko, who took the first set 6-4 and led by a break in the second. But more varied shotmaking from the 17-year-old, who had great success with drop shots especially when backing them up with lobs, saw her break back and level the match. In the final set, it was greater accuracy from Swiatek, who served much more cleanly than she had done in the first two, which made the difference as she dominated the decider for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.

This will be the first meeting between Pliskova and Swiatek, separated by a decade in age but just 14 places in the rankings. The opportunity for Swiatek is a significant one; Pliskova may be a lot older but she’s not massively more experienced at being in these positions, at winning WTA Tour semifinals. Swiatek’s drop shots will also be very effective against Pliskova, who isn’t the best at moving forward. Still, the level that Pliskova had to raise her game to in order to overcome Kuznetsova should be good enough to see off Swiatek in three sets and see the Pole into her first WTA Tour final for almost two years.

Pliskova vs Swiatek Samsung Open tennis is live from Lugano on Saturday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST

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Pliskova vs Swiatek tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Kristyna Pliskova faces 17-year-old sensation at Samsung Open

Kristyna Pliskova vs Iga Swiatek live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Lugano semifinal match on Saturday 13 April: Wimbledon girls’ champion Swiatek targets first WTA Tour final at the Samsung Open

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