Photo : Sarah-Jade Champagne / Tennis Canada
On Saturday afternoon at IGA Stadium, that very same wind slowly snuffed out Aryna Sabalenka’s fire in the first semifinal of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers.
Karolina Pliskova of Czechia—far more experienced than her rival when the elements get out of hand—weathered the storm with admirable finesse to win quite eloquently, 6-3, 6-4.
The 29-year-old right-hander dominated the clash, blasting only unreturnable shots. Still, Sabalenka kept hitting everything that flew at her to descend into a comedy of errors (29 versus 12 for Pliskova) and move further and further away from victory.
At the 81-minute mark, Pliskova qualified for the final of a tournament she has never won and reiterated her dominance over the very same opponent she defeated in the semifinal of Wimbledon this summer.
The excellent Karolina Pliskova hit 71% of her first serves in play (versus 55% for Sabalenka) and pounced on her foe’s so-so offerings. She racked up four break points and Sabalenka only one.
Pliskova flinched once, in the middle of the second set, when she was broken for the first and only time in the match, but she quickly capitalized on the Belarusian’s inefficiency in the wind to power through. She scored 66 points versus 53 for Sabalenka.