LONDON (UK): Karolina Pliskova, former world number one, reached her maiden Wimbledon final after coming back from a set down to beat second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 5-7 6-4 6-4 on Thursday.
The Czech goes into Saturday’s decider looking to capture her first Grand Slam title, having only ever reached one other final when she finished runner-up to Angelique Kerber at the 2016 U.S. Open.
Pliskova will face another Wimbledon final debutant in world number one Ash Barty, who beat Kerber earlier on Thursday.
The 29-year-old Pliskova found it hard going against Sabalenka, the first seeded player she had faced in this year’s tournament, and it showed as she dropped her first set on the only break point she faced with a double fault.
She made inroads on Sabalenka’s booming serve, which reached speeds of 193 kilometres per hour, to clinch a break to love midway through the second set. It was her ninth break point of the match but the first she converted, giving her the confidence to serve out the set and level the score.
The 23-year-old Sabalenka, playing in her first major semi-final, struggled for consistency, sending down 18 aces in the match but making 20 unforced errors including one to give up an early break in the first game of the deciding set.
Although the Belarusian rallied, Pliskova never looked in any danger, rarely breaking a sweat on her own serve as she booked her place in Saturday’s showpiece with an ace.
“I am in the final so I think it is incredible,” Pliskova said on court. “It was an amazing match from both of us, I got a bit frustrated but she was serving unbelievably – she was in a semi-final so had to play some great tennis. I am supper happy I managed to find a way to win.”
That will to win meant the Czech became the first player in 10 years in the women’s semi-finals to recover from going a set down to win the match.
“It is difficult when you are not doing well to stay positive, but my team is super positive, thanks to them I managed to stay calm and trust in my game,” she added.
“I have had success in the past so it is not like I forgot how to play tennis.”