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Sabalenka, Pliskova surge into Montreal semi-finals

Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova take care of their respective quarterfinal-final matches in straight sets on Friday in Montreal. They will go head-to-head in the semis.

An all-Belarusian quarter-final showdown at the National Bank Open went the way of Aryna Sabalenka on Friday. Sabalenka soared past countrywoman Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 19 minutes to set up a semi-final date with Karolina Pliskova.

Montreal’s top seed did not serve particularly well — seven double-faults cancelled out seven aces — but her return game was on fire to the tune of five breaks. Her fifth one came at 5-4 in the second set to wrap things up in style.

Pliskova sens Sorribes Tormo packing

Sara Sorribes Tormo continued her brilliant year with quarter-final run in Montreal, but she was no match for Pliskova on Friday afternoon. In what was similar match to the all-Belarusian tilt, Pliskova failed to deliver her best serving display but made up for it by being dominant in the return department for a victory in one hour and 20 minutes. The fourth-seeded Czech converted six of seven break points and won 12 of the 14 points when Sorribes Tormo had to toss in a second serve.

“I really improved my game, especially (at the) end of the first set,” Pliskova assessed. “Of course in the second set I think I did a good job, good points there, much better serving than in the first set.”

Sabalenka and Pliskova just faced each other in the Wimbledon semi-finals, where Pliskova prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 before finishing runner-up to Ashleigh Barty. That gave the 29-year-old a 2-1 lead in the head-to-head series, but Sabalenka won their only previous hard-court encounter 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the 2018 Cincinnati tournament.

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