Fairytale story continues as Lucic-Baroni stuns Pliskova to reach semis

By Sacha Pisani 25 January 2017 200
Fairytale story continues as Lucic-Baroni stuns Pliskova to reach semis

Not even fifth seed Karolina Pliskova could stop the fairytale that is Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who defied the odds to win through to the Australian Open semi-finals.

A career undone by problems on and off the court, veteran Lucic-Baroni continued her stunning renaissance at Melbourne Park with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 triumph on Wednesday.

Playing in her first grand slam quarter-final since 1999, the 34-year-old Croatian finished strongly, returning from a medical timeout to win the final three games with only one point dropped as the comeback queen advanced to her first major semi-final in 18 years.

Next up for Lucic-Baroni is either 22-time grand-slam champion Serena Williams or Johanna Konta.

Despite an early opening, which saw her earn a break point following a double fault and a forehand into the net, Lucic-Baroni was no match for Pliskova's height and power at the start of the match on Rod Laver Arena.

But just as Pliskova - many people's favourite to win the tournament - threatened to run away with the opening set after breaking at the second time of asking for a 3-1 lead, Lucic-Baroni found her range to stun the Czech star.

Lucic-Baroni halted her opponent in the sixth game and she did so again in the 10th as the veteran closed out the set on Pliskova's serve.

Up a set, Lucic-Baroni continued where she left off in the second with a break at 15 after holding in the opening game.

But a wayward cross-court backhand handed the break back to Pliskova and the topsy-turvy set continued with five breaks of serve in seven games.

Lucic-Baroni cracked first, broken to love as Pliskova forced a third and deciding set.

Pliskova won the final three games of the second set to gain all of the momentum but Lucic-Baroni continued to play her shots and she drew first blood in the opening game of the final set on her opponent's serve.

However, back-to-back double faults and a long forehand saw Lucic-Baroni broken back immediately, only for her to regain the break in stunning fashion with some monster returns.

Despite initially bucking the trend to hold serve, Lucic-Baroni was pegged back by Pliskova, who powered her way into a 4-3 lead.

But a medical timeout from Lucic-Baroni swung the momentum back in her favour as she blitzed Pliskova to love in consecutive games before sealing a spot in the final four when the latter missed a return.


Pliskova [5] Lucic-Baroni 6-4 3-6 4-6

Pliskova – 23/21
Lucic-Baroni – 42/35

Pliskova – 8
Lucic-Baroni – 9

Pliskova – 7/13
Lucic-Baroni – 7/11

Pliskova – 58
Lucic-Baroni – 56

Pliskova – 55/37
Lucic-Baroni – 70/33

Pliskova – 78
Lucic-Baroni – 88

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Sacha Pisani