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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Linette stays ‘composed,’ upsets Pliskova in Aussie quarters

MELBOURNE, Australia — Two days after advancing to her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, unseeded Magda Linette has gone one better and is into the Australian Open semifinals.

The 30-year-old Linette beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5 on Wednesday, adding the former No. 1 to the list of top players she has beaten at Melbourne Park during this tournament.

Linette, who had lost seven of nine previous matches against Pliskova, has defeated Anett Kontaveit, Ekaterina Alexandrova and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in successive rounds.

Linette dominated the shorter rallies, winning 50 of 80 rallies of four shots or fewer, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, en route to handing Pliskova her third straight loss in a major quarterfinal. She also lost in the 2021 and 2022 US Open rounds of eight, and now stands 4-7 in major quarterfinals.

A player from Poland was favored to reach the latter stages of the tournament, but it was top-seeded Iga Swiatek who everyone would have expected — and not Linette.

“It’s so emotional I can’t really believe it,” Linette said. “I tried to stay composed and took my chances when I could.”

Linette will play No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka in Thursday night’s semifinals. Sabalenka toppled unseeded Donna Vekic, 6-3, 6-2, on Wednesday.

Vekic, who had 13 double faults against Sabalenka, had a succinct appraisal of her serve: “I mean, it was all over the place. But I think mostly in the net.”

The other women’s semifinalists were determined Tuesday. Two-time former Australian champion Victoria Azarenka will face Wimbledon titleholder Elena Rybakina for a chance to play in the Saturday night final. Rybakina beat Swiatek in the fourth round.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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