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Svitolina sees off defending champion Pliskova to reach Brisbane final

113   //    05 Jan 2018, 19:52 IST
World number six Elina Svitolina

Elina Svitolina produced a demonstration of the threat she carries going into the Australian Open by beating former world number one and defending champion Karolina Pliskova to reach the Brisbane International final.

Svitolina had twice been defeated in the semi-final stage at this event, including by Pliskova last year, but it was a case of third time lucky as the world number six fought back from a slow start to prevail 7-5 7-5.

Pliskova dominated the early exchanges and surged into a 4-0 lead, only for Svitolina to deliver an impressive display of resilience, winning the next four games before striking with the crucial break in the 11th game.

It was Pliskova's turn to fight back in the second set as she erased a 5-2 deficit, saving match point at 5-4 down. However, she was immediately broken again at 5-5 and, although she saved two further match points, she could not stave off a third.

The Czech fired a backhand long and smashed her racket in frustration as a jubilant Svitolina bounced in celebration, having produced a performance that will suggest she can contend for glory at the first grand slam of the year, which will be missing 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams from the field.

Svitolina said: "It was very intense, the match was very tough, Karolina is playing extremely well, [the] defending champion [is] always extremely tough to play against."

On her 0-4 start, she added: "I was playing very bad, lots of mistakes, I said to myself try to take time and just go for your shots."

Svitolina won the most finals on the WTA Tour in 2017 with five victories, and will be heavily favoured to prevail against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Queensland, the Belarusian having beaten Anastasija Sevastova to reach her second career showpiece.

Sasnovich overcame a player ranked 72 places above her in straight sets, the world number 88 coming through 7-6 (7-3) 6-4, progressing to her first WTA final since September 2015.

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