By Ros Satar, in Stuttgart
- Coco Vandeweghe [WC] def. Caroline Garcia  6-4 6-2
- Karolina Pliskova  def. Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-2
STUTTGART, GERMANY – Coco Vandeweghe and Karolina Pliskova looks in solid form in their semi-finals as they set up Sunday’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final.
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Coco Vandeweghe [WC] def. Caroline Garcia  6-4 6-2
In what started out as a tightly wound first set, it looked to be a dropped set too far for Caroline Garcia. From the start of the match, Coco Vandeweghe’s attacking style had Garcia always seeming to be on the back foot, and the Frenchwoman did well to hold on to her serve.
Vandeweghe made no mistake in taking the solitary break point at the tail end of the serve, before serving out for the first set. From there it was plain sailing as she broke Garcia twice just needing a single break point each time.
It was a ruthlessly efficient display from the American, who has been resolute in dismissing any kind of skill or affinity for the clay, and has made a habit of being able to get some measure of revenge from losses previously on the dirt.
She explained: “It seems to be the MO when it comes to clay I get the crap beaten out of me a little bit. But this year it’s a little bit different at the start. And then Kontaveit I mean I played her in Madrid, I think it was last year. And, I won that one. Either or. Recently, I played Pliskova at the US Open but clay is completely different.
“I went to Fed Cup and it was probably not one of my favourite Fed Cups I’ve ever had on and off the court. So, coming here, I was really happy to see Pat which, you know as funny as it is – I enjoy Pat, don’t get me wrong but at some point, at some stage during the season you are sick and tired of seeing each other (laughs), I mean you just do. And so seeing him, I’m like ‘guys like listen, I really want this to be a tight niche this week.
“All this other outside stuff, because there has been a lot of moving pieces in my life jut personally, so I just really wanted this to be like kind of closer thing.’ That’s how I got to his point. So, here I am now today.”
One thing that has impressed about Garcia is a steadfast sense of mental maturity. She had three setters all the way, coming to this point and her second-round match against Marta Kostyuk looked to have been by far the most stressful of the three, and it is no coincidence that on paper, that was the one she was expected to win.
With her run at the end of last year, we saw her grow to be a humorous, enthusiastic young charge, especially in press where not too long ago, a colleague cut short his post-match interview with her because the loss had reduced her to a red-eyed wreck.
She said, after her match: “This match she played better than me. I was a little bit frustrated with the way I played. I think I can do better than this. But you know sometimes there is this kind of matches.
You have to keep the positive. And I think that this week I have been better than it was in the past weeks and it was some good fights, ups and downs, but more ups than downs. So, it’s positive. And there were some tough matches but physically also it’s good.”
She was even able to joke that as the thicker claggier Terre Battue of Paris calls, so does the media obligations on her.
She continued: “It’s quite a tough schedule because Madrid starts very early and you have to go there a couple of days before because it’s different atmosphere with a little bit altitudes. So, I will go I think on Wednesday and I will go back to Spain and practice, I mean rest and practice and I have some media to do. Looking forward to it (laughs). So, my Tuesday afternoon I’m busy. So, that’s quite a shame (laughs). But, you know, you have to do what you have to do and everyone is looking for French Open, right?
“We have to choose. They plan it well everything on the same afternoon. So, that’s good. They know I want to practice and be in a quiet place to practice and just focus on myself. Of course, there are requests but you can’t do everything. People have to understand you can’t be everywhere in the same place. Of course, I think it’s different than the past year but we are trying the best we can to keep it normal.”
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Karolina Pliskova  def. Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-2
Once more, the curse of one dropped set so far seemed to rear its head for Anett Kontaveit who, like Garcia, had impressed with her battling fortitude over the past week. As soon as Karolina Pliskova settled into her rhythm after a tense start from both of them, while Kontaveit’s head did not drop, it was clear it would be a monumental task to come back.
Pliskova, who perhaps has a little sharper motivation than a shiny car (that she can’t actually drive, thanks to having no licence), when it comes to facing Vandweghe, and she certainly has her plan in place.
“Tomorrow a little bit earlier, so I think it’s going to be a little bit better I hope for me, because the days are long. I try to just do everything possible to be ready and to be motivated – well there is a lot of motivation what I have about tomorrow.
“We played last year here. With her it’s always close match, we always play some tiebreaks, close sets. So I think it’s going to be about a few points.
“I have to be ready for good serves, for a lot [of] winners. I think she was playing very well today – what I saw a couple of games against Caro. And she’s a very confident player, so I have to make everything possible to just stay on my serve, to hold my serve and there’s always going to be mistakes on her side. Maybe a little bit similar to [Jelena] Ostapenko but the serve is the difference.”
The final between Vandeweghe and Pliskova will take place at 1:20pm (12:20pm BST).
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