Johanna Larsson completed the fourth comeback win of the season to reach the maiden WTA semifinal of the year at the Nürnberger Versicherungscup. The Swede defeated Kristyna Pliskova 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 to clinch the seventh victory in the last ten meetings against lefty opponents.
"She is a tough opponent and I'm happy I made it through in three sets after losing the first set. I'm happy that I could recharge energy mentally and stay strong for the second and third," Larsson said after the match, as the WTA site wrote.
Larsson, one of the few players able to remain on schedule in a crazy week that featured several delays due to wet weather, will face Katerina Siniakova for the fourth time in her career. The Czech had to dig deep to save six set points in the first set and came back from 2-5 down before dismissing 7-5, 6-4 Fanny Stollar in their first career meeting.
Siniakova, tenth on the tour with 112 aces, leads 2-1 the head to head series against Larsson who won the most recent clash earlier this year in Miami. The Czech, however, defeated the Swede in their only match-up on clay in the 2016 Bastad semifinal.
In a second-round clash, defending champions and No.3 seed Kiki Bertens progressed into the quarterfinals as she completed a 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4 victory over Mona Barthel. The German held a 9-3 head-to-head advantage over her higher ranked opponent and gained a 4-2 lead in the decider.
But in a rain-delayed encounter, Bertens claimed the fourth comeback success of the season. "It was tough out there," she admitted afterwards. "It was tough with movement. I had to play a bit different to my normal game.
I had to go more for more shots. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.” Accuracy, however, continued to desert her performance against the German who demonstrated an excellent mental fortitude until the seventh game of the deciding set.
Then, two easy mistakes gave Bertens the chance to break back and claim a berth in the quarter-final against Kirsten Flipkens who beat her two times in three previous meetings. The Belgian, however, has lost six of the last seven clashes against a top 20 opponent.