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Tennis: Pliskova, Lisicki lead late march into Hong Kong Open semis

Towering Czech Karolina Pliskova beat Zheng Jie to set up a semi-final against Belgian youngster Alison Van Uytvanck in the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open. Photo: Halo Studio.

Towering Czech Karolina Pliskova beat Zheng Jie to set up a semi-final showdown against Belgian youngster Alison Van Uytvanck in the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open. Photo: Halo Studio.

September 12, 2014: Third seed Karolina Pliskova overcame China’s Zheng Jie as well as numerous interruptions for rain on Friday to reach the semi-finals at the inaugural Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open.

 

Pliskova, 22, defeated the fifth seed 6-1, 6-3 in a match that lasted one hour and eight minutes on court, yet spanned more than five hours after organisers were forced to re-schedule the quarterfinals at a rain-swept Victoria Park Tennis Centre.

 

“I wasn’t too affected by the delay. Luckily I came out and broke her right away and that set the tone for the match,” said the six-foot one-inch Czech, who is targeting her second WTA title, having captured last year’s Malaysian Open.

 

“I stand a good chance to be in the final and maybe winning, but there are still some very good players left and I will have to play well if I’m to win.”

 

The World No. 36, runner-up at the Pattaya Open in February, will now come up against 20-year-old Belgian giantkiller Alison Van Uytvanck, who had beaten second seed Daniela Hantuchova in the second round and reached the semis with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian qualifier Jarmila Gajdosova.

 

Pliskova, however, believed she was capable of ending Van Uytvanck’s hot run. “I beat her the last time we played and although that does not guarantee me a win this time, my hopes are high and I will go in feeling confident,” Pliskova said.

 

Top seed Sabine Lisicki beat Chinese youngster Zheng Saisai 6-4, 6-3 in a late match on centre court and the 2013 Wimbledon finalist praised the fans who had stayed to watch.

 

“I really want to thank everyone who stayed out here tonight. It was only a struggle for us, being on and off, on and off, and it was great that people stayed,” said the 24-year-old Lisicki, runner-up at Wimbledon last year.

 

“The match was a bit tricky, with it being on and off, and I didn’t really know anything about Saisai. I’m happy with the win and to play another match on centre court, hopefully in better weather.”

 

The hard-serving German will contest the second semi-final against 34-year-old Italian Francesca Schiavone. The 2010 French Open champion comfortably beat seventh-seeded Slovak Jana Cepelova 6-2, 6-2 on court one to book her place in the semis.

 

Both doubles semi-finals will be also held on Saturday. Zheng and compatriot Wang Yafan will play against Austrian Patricia Mayr-Achleitner and Australian Arina Rodionova on court one at 3.00pm.

 

Taiwanese top seeds Chan Yung-jan and younger sister Chan Hao-ching will face Pliskova and twin sister Kristyna in the final match on centre court.

 

Source: Hong Kong Tennis Open (www.hongkongtennisopen.com); Editing by SportAsia

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