The semifinals of WTA Brisbane International 2019 will feature only two seeded players in a tournament of upsets from Day 1. Naomi Osaka, the reigning US Open champion, who has so far been the most consistent seeded player this week, will face Lesia Tsurenko in the first semifinal. Tsurenko is yet to beat or even take a set off Osaka in their two meetings–the last of which was at last year’s US Open, which the Japanese woman won 6-1 6-1.
Lesia Tsurenko has also been impressive during the first week. She beat Mihaela Buzarnescu, Kimberly Birrell, and Anett Kontaveit without dropping a set. The Ukrainian will attempt to beat a top 5 player for the second time in her career after upsetting Caroline Wozniacki at the 2018 US Open.
The second semifinal will be contested by the big serving Czech Karolina Pliskova and Donna Vekic of Croatia. Pliskova currently leads the head-to-head 2-1. Their last meeting was in Tokyo last year, which the Czech woman won in three tight sets. Pliskova, who won in Brisbane in 2017, has now reached the semifinals for the third straight year at this tournament. Donna Vekic will be looking for her 6th career top 10 win, an incredible statistic by her standards. The Croat blew Sasnovich off the court in just under an hour in her quarterfinal, and needed to save two match points before that against Kiki Bertens. Pliskova on the other hand managed to stave off a resurgent Ajla Tomljanovic in the quarterfinal.
While we now have the last remaining four women left in the draw, here are the predictions of who will contest the championship final in the first week of the season.
Donna Vekic vs Karolina Pliskova
Donna Vekic had one foot out of the tournament but survived against Bertens. Sometimes you need this sort of luck not to only to win the match but also the tournament. Pliskova, for all her incredible serving ability, has been broken numerous times this week. Vekic is a better player than the likes of Tomljanovic and Putintseva, both of whom Plsikova struggled to beat. This is Vekic’s second Premier semifinal of her career. So she is very inexperienced, but that does not mean she is not good enough. if Pliskova has another off day in her service game this could end very quickly.
Prediction: Vekic in 2
Naomi Osaka vs Lesia Tsurenko
I totally underestimated Naomi Osaka coming to the first week of the year. She has looked very good. Despite dropping a set against Sevastova, she managed to recover pretty quickly. The reaction after dropping the first set was what really impressed me. She is also hitting with immaculate precision, even at this early stage of the season. Tsurenko has not really been tested. It was no surprise to see Anett Kontaveit fail to back up her win over Kvitova because it is a very familiar trend with her. But that is not to take credit away from Tsurenko. Her relentless tennis frustrated her opponent, and that made Kontaveit go for the difficult shots. However, Osaka is odds-on favorite to win this and rightly so.
Prediction: Osaka in 2
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