Wimbledon Tennis 2021 Women’s Singles Semi-finals Highlights: Karolina Pliskova beat Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to set up the final meet with Ashleigh Barty. Sabalenka did not play bad but will have a few decisions to blame but Pliskova remained solid, steady through the match and served exceptionally to give herself the chance to win the Wimbledon. Earlier, Ashleigh Barty registers a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over former champion Angelique Kerber to make her first final at the All England Club. Barty had to grit it out with almost all her service games being tricky. Barty had to save five break points over the course of the match and came from 30-0 down in her service games a number of times. Kerber fought hard in the second set, had the chance to even serve it out but fell short in the end. The second semi-final will have second seed Aryna Sabalenka go up against Karolina Pliskova, who has not dropped a single set till this stage.
Ashleigh Barty’s clash with Angelique Kerber would be fit for a final, pitching the world number one against the 2018 Wimbledon champion. The other semi is an intriguing duel between former world number one Karolina Pliskova and the powerful second seed from Belarus, Aryna Sabalenka.
Barty is motivated by a higher purpose. For it is 50 years ago her fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley won the first of her two Wimbledon titles. Barty has worn a specially-designed dress as a tribute to the ‘iconic’ scallop one her “friend and mentor” wore in that 1971 final. Kerber, 33, has bounced back to top form after first round exits at both the Australian and French Open.
"Sounds incredible. I hadn't been beyond the fourth round and now I am in the final. It was an amazing match from both of us.
"I had to stay focussed, that's why I did.
"It's tough if you're not doing well but it's important to stay positive. Because of my team I managed to do that. It's not like I forgot to play tennis if I lose in the first round a couple of times. Thank you so much to my team for being super positive."
Pliskova 5-7, 6-4, 5-3* Sabalenka
Sabalenka takes the first point after Pliskova double faulted. Pliskova then makes it 15-15 as Sabalenka cannot close the point and Pliskova returned at her feet, which she couldn't return. Pliskova then takes a 30-15 lead after Sabalenka hits her backhand long. She then makes it 40-15 with a brilliant ace. She closes the game out with another big serve to get herself to just a service hold away from the final.
Pliskova 5-7, 6-4, 4-2* Sabalenka
Pliskova gets the first point of the game after Sabalenka an't return her second serve. She then hits her backhand into the net to make it 15-15. She gets two good balls back in play but misses her forehand to give Pliskova a 30-15 lead. Pliskova did great move Sabalenka across the court but misses the easier forehand to make it 30-30. Pliskova then makes it 40-30 as with a non-pacy return to Sabalenka's lob, leaving the Belarusian confused. She holds her serve by moving Sabalenka well to the side and then makes a good backhand.
Pliskova 5-7, 6-4, 3-2* Sabalenka
A big second serve from Sabalenka and Pliskova's return is long. Another wide big serve from Sabalenka to take a 30-0 lead. She makes it 40-0 lead after some excellent defending and the net cord helping her a bit. She then double faults to make it 40-15. But another big serve and she holds her serve.
Pliskova 5-7, 6-4, 3-1* Sabalenka
Excellent defending from Sabalenka as she somehow just gets the ball in play and Pliskova came to the net running but her backhand was wide. Another big serve from Pliskova and Sabalenka just can't return. An ace wide and a big forehand from Pliskova to get to 40-15. She then holds her serve as Sabalenka can't return a loopy shot from Pliskova.
Pliskova 5-7, 6-4, 1-0* Sabalenka
What a first point in the third set as Pliskova's lob hits the mark. Sabalenka takes the next point to make it 15-15 after a fantastic down-the-line volley. A huge second serve from Sabalenka to take a 30-15 lead. However, she loses the next point after a deep return from Pliskova. Pliskova then gets a break point as Sabalenka hits the forehand into the net. Pliskova gets the break and the lead in the third set early on.
Pliskova takes the semi-final into the decider with a 6-4 win in the second set. One break of serve was enough for Pliskova to take this one.
Sabalenka takes the first point adn in 11 service games, this is first time Pliskova has lose the first point. Sabalenka makes it 30-0 after a great running forehand down-the-line pass. Pliskova makes it 15-30 after a good shot close to the line that Sabalenka can't return. She makes it 30-30 despite Sabalenka trying her best to return. She gets a set point with Sabalenka hitting her backhand into the net. Another big serve and Pliskova takes the set.
Pliskova 5-7, 5-4* Sabalenka
A fantastic ace down the T from Sabalenka to take the first point but she makes it 15-15 by hitting into the net next. She once again serves up an ace to make it 30-15. She makes it 40-15 with another big serve. She then double faults to make it 40-30. Pliskova then sends her forehand long for Sabalenka to hold her serve.
Pliskova 5-7, 5-3* Sabalenka
Two missed returns from Sabalenka and Pliskova leads 30-0 on her serve. Sabalenka can't return the serve again and Pliskova goes up 40-0. One deep return from Sabalenka and Pliskova hits her backhand into the net to make it 40-15. A double fault then from Pliskova to make it 40-30. Pliskova holds her serve after Sabalenka hits another backhand into the net.
Pliskova 5-7, 4-3* Sabalenka
Pliskova holds her serve with aplomb once again.
Sabalenka responds by going up 40-15 on her serve but Pliskova sends a stunning, disdainful forehand to make it 40-30. A brilliant deep return of serve then from Pliskova that throws off Sabalenka to make it 40-40. Pliskova then throws her return of serve out and Sabalenka gets the advantage after which she holds her serve.
Pliskova 5-7, 3-2* Sabalenka
Sabalenka goes down 0-15 and then Pliskova hits that backhand with some disdain to make it 30-0. Sabalenka then makes another error and now she is in trouble 0-40 down. Finally, Pliskova breaks Sabalenka on the ninth break point with the Belarusian serving up a double fault.
Aryna Sabalenka takes the first set 7-5 as Pliskova double faults. For the entirety of the first set, Sabalenka was under pressure on her serve and saved eight break points. Pliskova then has to serve to stay in the first set and she faulters.
Another big serve down the T from Pliskova to get the first point. Pliskova drives her backhand long to make it 15-15. Pliskova with a shocking forehand wide and long, she was in control at the net but made a wild one. However, she then serves up an ace to make it 30-30. Excellent defensive play from Sabalenka and Pliskova can't close it out in control. Sabalenka then comes to the net and puts in a sliced backhand to earn a break point, which is a set point too. Double fault from Pliskova to lose the first set.
Pliskova 5-6* Sabalenka
Sabalenka hits the forehand into the net to give the first point to Pliskova. The Czech gets a 30-0 lead after another forehand from Sabalenka goes into the net. Pliskova with a deep return and Sabalenka is in trouble at 0-40. She saves the first break point with an ace. A big second serve from Sabalenka and Plsikova drives her forehand into the net and the Belarusian saves another break point. She saves all the three break points with another big serve. Sabalenka with a slice of luck but she can't make it count by driving her backhand wide and giving Pliskova her fourth break point. She serves up a sliced serve wide to save that one too. What serving under pressure! Sabalenka with an ace to take the advantage and the Belarusian had to challenge to get that call in her favour. The second seed then serves up fantastically close to the centre line for a crucial hold of serve.
Pliskova 3-4* Sabalenka
Sabalenka makes two good points to go up 30-0 but Pliskova hits back to make it 30-30. Sabalenka then makes a costly unforced error at the net to go down a break point. Break point down, she brings her power to the play once again to make it 40-40. However, she gives another break point to Pliskova with another ball into the net. She saves it too with a fantastic ace. Excellent play from Sabalenka as she makes a good serve and then a fantastic soft volley to win the point and get the advantage. She holds her serve with a second serve ace.
Pliskova 3-3* Sabalenka
Pliskova has brought her A game to the court so far. Couple of big serves and solid groundstrokes from her to take a 30-0 lead. Sabalenka then wins a point before the second seed slips and loses the next for Pliskova to go up 40-15. Powerful response from Sabalenka as she makes a strong forehand for Pliskova to return into the net. The Czech holds her serve as Sabalenka's forehand takes the top of the net and topples back in.
Top seed Ash Barty became the first Australian woman to reach the Wimbledon singles final in 41 years after beating former champion Angelique Kerber 6-3 7-6(3) on Thursday.
Pliskova 2-3* Sabalenka
There are some tight points going on at the moment. Sabalenka is applying all the power she has while Pliskova is soaking it up well to make good returns. Sabalenka hits the backhand into the net off Pliskova's return of her serve. She saves the break point with Pliskova hitting it wide. Advantage to Pliskova as she goes for a low return and Sabalenka is not helped by the net. Sabalenka saves the second break point with a good serve. Fantastic serve from Sabalenka and then she trounces Pliskova's return with a powerful backhand. Good exchange of volleys and Sabalenka holds her serve.
Kerber has been pivotal to Barty’s surge to the top, the Australian learning how much she had to improve to compete with the best after a straight sets defeat by the German in the final in Sydney in 2018. She was a fast learner as just over a year later she won the French Open and topped the world rankings — Cawley being the only other Australian woman to be world number one.
Kerber has improved as the Championships have progressed from earning along with her second round opponent Sara Sorribes Tormo a five-minute standing ovation for their three hour marathon. The 25th seed has gone on to impressive wins over higher-seeded duo Coco Gauff and then Karolina Muchova.
Pliskova too has never doubted herself despite dropping out of the top 10 — she is ranked 13 — after being a regular since 2016. A first appearance in a Wimbledon semi-final has justified that self-belief — she is yet to drop a set and has only had her serve broken three times. The 29-year-old Czech has hit 40 aces and she served one with full force directed at her doubters after she beat Swiss Viktorija Golubic on Tuesday.
Sabalenka has defied the sceptics questioning her second seed status as she has broken new ground in reaching the last four having never before got past the fourth round of a major. The 23-year-old’s tiger tattoo on her left thigh — due to her being born in 1998 the Year of the Tiger — led to her parents not speaking to her for a week.
However, she has lived up to the image of the tiger both in power and fighting spirit in eye-catching wins in the past two rounds over Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur to earn her place in the last four.
Pliskova will need no reminding of the 23-year-old Sabalenka’s battling qualities. When they last met in Cincinnati in 2018 Sabalenka beat Pliskova having saved two match points.