Simona Halep missed the chance to return to world number one as a devastating display from Karolina Pliskova sealed the Czech’s passage into the Miami Open WTA final 7-5, 6-1.
Romania’s Halep would have reclaimed the top spot in women’s tennis if she had reached Saturday’s showpiece following the current number one Naomi Osaka’s early exit and Petra Kvitova falling to Ashleigh Barty in the last eight.
But Pliskova, the world number seven, had other ideas, rattling off an incredible nine games in a row to blitz Halep and set up an intriguing battle with Australian Barty a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Estonian Anett Kontaveit.
“It wasn’t easy waiting for so long but I managed to stay aggressive,” said Pliskova, who hit 29 winners to Halep’s 18 in the match that finished after 1 am thanks to a series of rain delays. Ashleigh is a good player, but I am excited for the final.
The South Florida weather played havoc with Thursday’s schedule at Hard Rock Stadium, no more so than when the rains returned with Pliskova on the brink of a brilliant win.
The play was initially halted at 3-3 in the first.
When they resumed, Halep edged ahead 5-3 before Pliskova roared back, taking the first set and a 5-0 lead in the second before rain forced them from the court again.
Halep, who recovered from 1-5 down in the second set in her quarter-final match against Wang Qiang, held serve upon the restart.
But in the very next game, Pliskova served out to ruin Halep’s hope of reclaiming the number one ranking she lost when Japan’s Osaka won the Australian Open earlier this year.