The rain caused a lot of problems for the organizers of the Zhengzhou Open in the last couple of days, with five second-round clashes still left to be played on Friday, together with all four quarter-finals. In a challenging day for many players (Svitolina had to spend more than five hours on the court), we have gotten the four semi-finalists who are still on the title trail, including the top seed and two unseeded competitors.
Karolina Pliskova defeated Polona Hercog 6-3, 7-5 in the second round before taking down the 6th seed Sofia Kenin 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in an hour and 51 minutes for the sixth semi-fina in 2019, making a nice recovery after the fourth-round loss in New York to Johanna Konta.
Against Kenin, Pliskova blasted 18 aces but struggled a lot on the second serve to offer the young American 11 break chances (six of those while already being close to the finish line), fending off nine of those to limit the damage and mount the pressure on the other side of the net.
Kenin won the second set but that was all we saw from here, suffering three breaks in the decider to push the Czech into the last four. Ajla Tomljanovic needed four and a half hours to grab two wins and advance into the third semi-final in 2019, ousting the 3rd seed Kiki Bertens 6-4, 7-6 in just under two hours and prevailing against Saisai Zheng 6-1, 6-7, 6-4 in even more grueling two hours and 35 minutes to stay on the title course.
It was the third meeting of the season between Tomljanovic and Zheng and the second win for the Aussie who fended off seven out of 13 break chances and delivered nine breaks from 13 opportunities to cross the finish line first.
Ajla raced into a 6-1, 3-1 lead before the Chinese bounced back, taking four games in a row and missing the opportunity to close the set at 5-3, taking it in the tie break and opening an early advantage in the decider as well.
Tomljanovic got it back instantly to level the score at 2-2 and there were five breaks of serve in the last five games of the encounter, three for the Aussie who sealed the deal with a break at 15 in game ten. The 7th seed Petra Martic toppled the 4th seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 38 minutes, improving an already incredible record in the deciding sets in 2019 and reaching the fourth semi-final of the season.
The Croat defended 13 out of 18 break chances she faced and earned six breaks to cross the finish line first, rattling off the last three games of the encounter from 4-3 down in the final set to set Kristina Mladenovic clash on Saturday.
The French player prevailed against the 2nd seed Elina Svitolina 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 44 minutes, with the Ukrainian staying on the court for more than five hours in two matches, giving her best but losing the ground in the deciding set after getting broken five times!
The fourth game of the first set was one of the longest of the season, offering no less than 18 deuces and six break chances for Elina who wasted them all, bouncing back in set number two before Kristina took charge on the return again to advance into the first semi-final since St.
Petersburg in February 2018.