Like the Konta-Bertens semi final, the other WTA matchup will be between one top 10 player and a surprise package hoping to make her first Premier 5 final. Maria Sakkari should now be seeded at the French Open but can confirm that with a win over Karolina Pliskova.
Pliskova achieved her career best result in Rome after seeing off the threat of a resurgent Victoria Azarenka in the quarter finals. She was rarely troubled following the loss of the first set against the Belarussian, not giving away her serve again in the 6-7 6-2 6-2 victory and facing just one break point in the final two sets. The [last] two sets, I don’t think it was easy, because the score looked quite easy, I just had many chances, more chance than in the first. Also on the returns, I just went for it more. My serve was better actually, and that’s why it ended this way.” said Pliskova, who hit 41 winners in the victory.
Sakkari is seeking her second clay final of the year after already picking up the title in Rabat. The Greek has been consistently in and around the top 50 all year but may be looking to make the next step if recent form is anything to go by. She had to fight back from 7-5 2-1 down against Kristina Mladenovic, eventually cruising to a 5-7 6-3 6-0 victory against the qualifier. “You have to be careful because if you lose your focus for a second, like a point or two, things can change, especially with these players,” Sakkari said of her performance. “So you just have to stay focused and keep doing what you’re doing.”
It will be a tough ask for Sakkari to pick up another big victory but will take heart from her win over Petra Kvitova early in the week – another power hitting lefty Czech. She also beat Pliskova at this very tournament last year, coming from a set down to deal the then 6th seed an early exit.
Prediction – Karolina Pliskova in straight sets