Saturday, 18 February 2017

Doha final is Pliskova v Wozniacki

The delays in the WTA Qatar Open, caused by inconsiderate Doha weather, have been put to rest thanks to rescheduling and in some cases players doubling up on matches on certain days.

All quarter finals and semi finals are complete, and an appetising final awaits, with two highly contrasting playing styles competing for the title.
Dominika Cibulkova had already booked her semi final spot and was awaiting the winner of Karolina Pliskova (2) and Shuai Zhang, that match suspended with the second seed ahead 6-2 1-0.  It didn't last much longer once recommenced. 

The remaining five games were gobbled up by an impatient and obviously hungry Pliskova who surrendered just eight points for the second set.  Hard to recognise the Chinese player as the talented world number 31 but that is how humiliated Pliskova can make her opponents look and feel when she is switched on full throttle.

It was appreciably tougher against Cibulkova in the semi final, and the first two sets were shared, the quality of tennis probably the best of the tournament to date, as one should expect.  
At this point, Domi had not served an ace, whereas Karolina had delivered 13.  That trend continued in the decider, with the serving machine manufacturing another eight.

Still unintimidated, the Slovakian pocket rocket matched it in most of the exchanges,  and even created two break points.   Pliskova managed to save both with her serving weapon and it was just the one chance offered by Cibulkova which was grabbed gleefully by the Czech star taking her to 6-4 4-6 6-3 and the final.

Daria Kasatkina must regret letting her quarter final lead slip against Monica Puig.  After winning the opener 6-4,  the Russian winning percentage on first serve dropped alarmingly and Puig didn't have to be asked twice, breaking three times to Kasatkina's twice, and levelling at 4-6 7-5.

The decider also had five breaks of serve, but Kasatkina could only manage to convert twice from nine opportunities - Puig broke three times again from seven chances.
Puig's semi final opponent was Caroline Wozniacki, who ran over the top of Lauren Davis in set two after prevailing 7-5 in a tight first stanza.

Wozniacki breezed into the final, thrashing Puig 6-1 6-2, certainly a semi final in a league several rungs lower than the other.
Wozniacki was eating up the Puig serve, especially in the first set, where she won 71% of the points.

It will be a much different pace and quality of serve to deal with in the final, and Wozniacki needs to be at her very best to trouble Pliskova.

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