Dubai: Unheralded Su-Wei Hsieh stunned fourth seed Karolina Pliskova in three sets, while second seed Petra Kvitova eased her way past Viktoria Kuzmova to book their places in the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday.
Bidding for her fourth consecutive semi-final, the fourth-seeded Kvitova was taken apart by a tricky 33-year-old from Taiwan in exactly two hours, while it took Kvitova half that time to send Slovakia’s Kuzmova packing.
World No. 5 Pliskova struggled against the guile and mixed bag of tricks from the former two-time women’s doubles Grand Slam champion before caving in 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, while the world No. 4 from the Czech Republic needed only 62 minutes to dispatch Kuzmova, the world No. 46 from Slovakia.
This is the first-ever Premier-level semi-final for Su-Wei, who had stunned fifth seed Angelique Kerber on Wednesday.
I think the last game was more tough for me because I was leading. I remembered that my coach told me to stay positive and aggressive and in the end I was just too happy to finish the match.
“Honestly, I was not thinking about this because during the whole match I was thinking ‘she is serving so big and I need to try to do something a little bit on my return’,” Su-Wei said.
“I won the first set 6-4, but it was still pretty difficult for me to return her serve. I wasn’t thinking of any other stuff, but just to survive on the return.”
Her coach’s advice to “be positive and aggressive” worked all through as Su-Wei broke in the ninth and then held to take the opening set 6-4.
But from then on it was Pliskova all the way as the Czech dominated while winning the second easily.
The Czech maintained her calm with a couple of early breaks and was well on her way to her second semi-final in Dubai as she led 5-1. But Su-Wei won the next six games to run away with the encounter.
“I cannot remember everything right now because I was trying to get the ball into the court as aggressively as I can. I think the last game was more tough for me because I was leading,” said Su-Wei.
“I remembered that my coach told me to stay positive and aggressive and in the end I was just too happy to finish the match.”
Champion at the 2016 Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, Su-Wei will make her second centre court appearance in Friday’s semi-final against second seed Kvitova — an easy 6-4, 6-0 winner against Kuzmova.
The second seed and 2013 Dubai champion was taking nothing for granted against a tricky Su-Wei. “Well, as we saw today, she’s a big fighter. She beat Angie [Kerber] yesterday and she is definitely a tough and tricky opponent,” Kvitova said.
“I played her in Sydney in a really tough match and there will be probably some rallies tomorrow. I need to be ready for every shot that she is going to bring to the game.”
Su-Wei Hsieh bt Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5; Petra Kvitova bt Veronika Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0.
Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova bt Gabriela Dabrowski/Yifan Xu 6-7, 6-3, 1-0; Lara Arruabarrena/Kaitlyn Christian bt Jelena Ostapenko/Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 6-3, 1-0.