Karolina Pliskova survived three match points en-route to a nerve-jangling win over Jelena Ostapenko, taking victory in a third set tiebreak.
Pliskova – who has reached the final of this tournament in each of the last two years, winning in 2019 – bounced back from dropping the first set 6-4 to take the second 7-5 and set up a decider.
And the third stanza was one for the ages, with Ostapenko missing three match points, including a brace at 15-40 and 5-4 up. Pliskova’s gutsy response kept her in it, although she needed a stroke of luck to take the set to a tiebreak, with a cruel net cord leaving her opponent with absolutely no chance at the decisive moment of the set’s 12th game.
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But the 29-year-old Czech dominated the breaker, winning seven straight points right when it mattered to produce her second comeback win of the season against Ostapenko, following on from her win in Stuttgart last month.
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Pliskova will face Petra Martic in the semi-finals following the Croatian’s 7-5 6-4 win over Jessica Pegula.
Martic had struggled throughout the season prior to her trip to Rome, winning back-to-back matches just once, but has clicked into gear on the Italian clay, and gave Pegula no chance to get into her stride.
"The key was to overtake, to not let her play and take control of the points of the rally and just make me run. So I tried to do that before her," Martic explained.
"I tried to use my serve. Obviously she didn't like my kick so much, so I knew I had to really be sharp on those first shots after return of serve and not let her overtake. I think I did that pretty well for the most part."
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