Pliskova ousts top seed Halep to reach Madrid semis

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Top-ranked Simona Halep lost to Karolina Pliskova 4-6, 3-6 in the Madrid Open quarterfinals yesterday.
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Top-ranked Simona Halep lost to Karolina Pliskova 4-6, 3-6 in the Madrid Open quarterfinals yesterday.

Halep was the two-time defending champion and on a 15-match winning streak at the claycourt tournament.

But Pliskova gave the Romanian no chance, breaking her serve four times and hitting 20 winners.

“This was one of my best matches of the year,” the sixth-seeded Pliskova said. “I feel amazing since in the last 6 matches I lost to her. I never thought I would beat her. My serve was great and everything went my way.”

Pliskova’s only prior victory from a previous 7 matches against Halep was in the 2016 Fed Cup.

Pliskova won her 10th career title in April, when the Czech was victorious on clay in Stuttgart. She will play compatriot Petra Kvitova or Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the semifinals.

After beating Jelena Ostapenko, Anett Kontaveit and Coco Vandeweghe on her way to winning the title in Stuttgart a fortnight ago, Pliskova, the sixth seed, is now the highest ranked player left in the draw.

Halep will still be among the favorites later this month at the French Open, where she has twice finished runner-up, but Pliskova is building up a head of steam for Roland Garros and this latest victory also had a family flavor given Halep had knocked out her twin sister Kristyna in the previous round.

Seventh seed Caroline Garcia also advanced to the semifinals after beating Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-3.

France’s world No. 7 registered 28 winners on Manolo Santana court and will now face either Maria Sharapova of Russia or Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens for a place in tomorrow’s final.

After reaching the last 4 in Stuttgart a fortnight ago, Garcia is yet to drop a set in the Spanish capital.

On the men’s side, Kyle Edmund continued his excellent run in Spain by ousting eighth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-4, 6-4 in the third round. Edmund, an unseeded Brit, defeated former No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia in straight sets on Wednesday.

Edmund had lost in 5 sets to Goffin when they last met, also on clay, in the 2015 Davis Cup but the 23-year-old’s rise has been sharp since then and this was a completely different contest as the Briton moved into the last 8 of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career.

Goffin is no slouch on clay. He reached the French Open quarterfinals last year and made the semifinals in Barcelona earlier this month.

Denis Shapovalov, meanwhile, defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4 in an all-Canadian clash.


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