Caroline Wozniacki beats former world no. 1 Karolina Pliskova in rain-delayed Rogers Cup quarterfinal

Hannah Wilks in WTA 12 Aug 2017
  • Caroline Wozniacki beats world no. 1 Karolina Pliskova to make the semifinals of the Rogers Cup
  • Wozniacki's first win over a reigning no. 1 in seven attempts came after several rain stoppages in Toronto
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Toronto at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
Caroline Wozniacki on her way to victory over Karolina Pliskova in the WTA Rogers Cup Toronto quarterfinals (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki defeated the currently top-ranked Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup on Friday.

Rogers Cup tennis is live from Toronto until Sunday 14 August. Watch and bet on tennis live from Toronto at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Caroline Wozniacki staged an impressive comeback against world no. 1 Karolina Pliskova in a rain-hit quarterfinal clash to make the semifinals of the Rogers Cup, where she will face Sloane Stephens or Lucie Safarova.

Wozniacki trailed 1-5 in the first set and 2-4 in the third set but won both to claim her first ever win over a reigning world no. 1. 

Karolina Pliskova, meanwhile, will be left to regret having allowed Wozniacki to wriggle off the hook despite laboring for almost three hours to put herself in a winning position.

Karolina Pliskova in action  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Playing in her first tournament as world no. 1, having risen to the top by virtue of finishing runner-up at the US Open last year as well as the titles claimed in Brisbane, Doha and Eastbourne so far in 2017, Pliskova’s hold on the top spot was already under threat from Simona Halep before the tournament even started. 

While the Czech hasn’t had to undergo anything like the treatment that was meted out to former ‘Slamless no. 1s’ – especially Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic and Wozniacki herself during her tenure at the top – there is a tremendous amount of pressure associated with being in that position and Pliskova appeared to be feeling it at times today.

The start of the match was delayed by almost two hours due to rain in Toronto and the weather played a significant role in how the first set developed. Pliskova made by far the brighter start, playing dominant tennis and bullying Wozniacki around at the back of the court with her superior power, breaking for 2-0 after forcing a backhand long off the back foot from the Dane. 

Wozniacki saved points for a double break at 0-3, but on game point the rain forced the players off the court again. The world no. 6 held serve on the resumption and got to 15-30 on the Pliskova serve at 1-3, but Pliskova fended her off with her preferred first-strike tennis and then played a crushingly perfect return game to get the double break and a 5-1 lead. 

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For the first time, but not the last, the nerves showed for the top seed as she played a very poor game when serving for the set. Wozniacki broke back to love before another rain delay and on the restart, only two points could be played before the rain set in again. Wozniacki was the more openly fractious and frustrated, but Pliskova seemed to have been the one worst affected by the persistent stoppages. When play started again, Wozniacki held before breaking to get back on serve at 4-5 when Pliskova, serving for the first set once again, buried a short forehand in the net to give up break point, the Dane landing a great angled backhand return.

Wozniacki on her way to victory  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Wozniacki promptly served out the first set, having reeled off six games from 1-5 down. With the sun now out, Pliskova stopped the run of games against her by holding to open the second but kept finding herself under pressure, having to hold from 0-40 for 3-2, then saving another break point for 4-3. She couldn’t convert the two break points she earned on the Wozniacki serve, but was playing more calmly and dictatorially and it was swinging the momentum in her direction as the second set went to a tie break. 

Pliskova outlasted Wozniacki to level the match and seemed to have it all going her way as it went to a decider. Wozniacki saved break point to keep the third set on serve early but at 2-2, Pliskova intensified the pressure and a shaky second serve from the Dane gave her the opening she needed, the Czech landing a heavy cross-court backhand to get the error from Wozniacki and lead 3-2. 

Pliskova pressed hard for the double break but couldn’t quite secure it – and it would cost her. Serving at 4-3, Pliskova threw in a sudden, terrible game and was promptly broken back to 4-4. She got to 30-30 on Wozniacki’s serve, but consecutive backhand errors cost her and suddenly Wozniacki was one game away from the semifinals.

Wozniacki came into the match 0-6 against world no. 1 players, having lost five times to Serena Williams and once to Dinara Safina, but the two-time US Open runner-up showed no sign of nerves in contrast to her younger opponent. Pliskova struggled to find her biggest weapons as she served to stay in the match and while many in the stadium were still marveling at the speedy turnaround, Wozniacki won her third straight game to close out the victory 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4.

Wozniacki will face either Lucie Safarova or Sloane Stephens for a place in the Rogers Cup final, which would be her fifth final of 2017. 

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Caroline Wozniacki beats former world no. 1 Karolina Pliskova in rain-delayed Rogers Cup quarterfinal

Caroline Wozniacki trailed in the first and third sets in the Toronto quarterfinals but staged a comeback to earn her first win over a reigning world no. 1 over Karolina Pliskova at the Rogers Cup

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