By Ros Satar, in Stuttgart
- Anett Kontaveit def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-7(6) 6-4
- Karolina Pliskova  def. Jelena Ostapenko  5-7 7-5 6-4
STUTTGART, GERMANY – The semi-final line-up was completed with a brace of three-setters to set up super Saturday at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
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Anett Kontaveit def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-7(6) 6-4
It was another quality match of high intensity for the third quarter-final as the two perhaps surprise packages if Anett Kontaveit and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova treated the crowd to a second three set thriller of the schedule.
Kontaveit, making just her second appearance in Stuttgart went one better than her previous best last year and looks to be following up her breakthrough season last year, where she rose from outside the Top 100 in 2016 to finish No. 34 last year.
In Pavlyuchenkova, she met a veteran of Porsche Tennis campaigns, although the Russian too enjoying a career best run to the quarter-final. Kontaveit hit first with a a break in the first set, pegged back at 5-5 before breaking the Russian right back for the advantage, and closing out the first set comfortably.
The second set was a far nervier affair, trading breaks a couple of times each, with Pavlyuchenkova failing to take a couple of set points before an equally tense tie-break. The Russian held her nerve to level the match.
The nerves returned to both in the middle of the decider with a flurry of breaks (seven in total) to the end of the match – with three match points going begging alone in the penultimate game, before Kontaveit finally converted on her fourth.
Kontaveit said, after the match: “It was just a battle. She never gave up, it was never done. It was like, you really had to stay in the match and try and focus as hard as you can and fight as hard as you can.”
Karolina Pliskova  def. Jelena Ostapenko  5-7 7-5 6-4
Waiting for her in the next round will be Karolina Pliskova, who came from a set down against Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian made a strong start in the first set, jumping out to a strong lead that Pliskova pegged back before Ostapenko broke for the first set.
The second set saw a quick trade of breaks before Pliskova looked to be getting a grip on the match, levelling, coming out in top of a trade of breaks at the start of the third set. That advantage stayed with her and although she had a chance to add a break, she found herself batting away break points on her own serve before booking her spot in the semi-final on her second match point.
Pliskova explained: “I know she can play well. She can play this way, but she can also give you some points which happen in the second set. She has two games where she was a little bit off, and third set as well. I could make for 5-2 and then in the end I made a little bit drama(laughs) but it could be a little bit different but anyway, it’s good and I hold my serve, so I’m confident right now (laughs.)”
Having had both long matches, Pliskova and Kontaveit face a relatively short turnaround before the second semi-final on Saturday.
Pliskova continued: “I think now third opponent in a row playing quite aggressive style, I think today was the best practice I could have for Kontaveit. I think she hits a little bit similar, maybe not that fast. But for sure she won [from match points down] so it’s always danger when somebody wins the first round [from match points down].
“Today also tough match [for Kontaveit] so I think she’s going to be, well I think tired as me, but hopefully we’re going to be both ready and I think it’s a little bit different to play those girls on clay sometimes because of the bad bounces. It’s tough to really put the speed what they put back, because on hard you can really move a little bit better, defend a little bit better. I feel like it’s maybe a little bit easier on hard court for me, just to play those girls.”
Pliskova and Kontaveit will face each other in the second semi-final, not before 6:30pm (5:30pm BST).
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