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Halep recovery sets up Pliskova final

Simona Halep

Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep will contest the Dubai Tennis Championships final after winning their respective semi-finals on Friday.

Simona Halep will be Karolina Pliskova's opponent in the Czech's first WTA Premier 5 final after both won final-four clashes at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.

Halep and Pliskova have never previously met, but will contest this weekend's final, with the former fighting from a set down to see off Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki 2-6 6-1 6-1.

Pliskova, responsible for the exits of Ana Ivanovic and Lucie Safarova, came through a lengthy encounter with Spaniard Garbine Muguruza with the help of a crucial break in the final set, eventually winning 6-4 5-7 7-5.

In a contest that saw the pair share 22 aces, the third break of serve was the one to make the difference as 17th seed Pliskova gained the upper hand in the penultimate game.

Muguruza still battled back, moving 40-0 ahead in the final game, but Pliskova was not to be denied as she recovered to deuce before making the most of her second match point to progress.

"I feel amazing, I really didn't expect to get to the final here," Pliskova is quoted as telling the WTA website.

"We both have great serves, so it's always going to be tough to break, even if you have 0-30 or 0-40, it doesn't mean anything until you get that final point.

"I put everything into my serve to get that final game."

In the second of the semis, Wozniacki initially looked well on course to meet Pliskova in the final as she raced through the opening set in just half an hour.

However, top seed Halep - facing Wozniacki for the first time since 2013 - recovered to move into a four-game lead in the second before seeing out the set.

Halep, who saw off Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-final, was similarly convincing in the final set with the help of some solid returning and two saved break points.

The Romanian will now target a second WTA success of 2015, having already secured the Shenzhen Open title last month.

 

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Murray plays down Vallverdu impact

Andy Murray

His former coach may be with Tomas Berdych, but Andy Murray played down the impact that would have in the Australian Open semi-finals.

Andy Murray is unfazed by facing Tomas Berdych, despite the Czech being led by former member of his coaching staff, Dani Vallverdu.

Berdych was full of praise for the Venezuelan after ending a 17-match losing run against Rafael Nadal to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Murray advanced later on Tuesday with a 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory over Nick Kyrgios on Rod Laver Arena.

The wins set up a blockbuster last-four clash between the two, with Murray's former coach in Berdych's corner.

Asked if it would change his preparation at all, Murray is not convinced it will only be to his opponent's benefit.

"I've always said to people that, you know, watching is one thing and seeing someone's game, but when you actually get on the court with them things are actually a lot different," he said.

"It seems like you might be able to attack certain areas of someone's game or something that they do might look really good, but what matters is when you're on the court can you exploit those things, that weakness.

"That weakness, is it as weak as you think?

"It's completely different when you're out there on the court, in my opinion. We'll see how the match plays out and what the tactics are and stuff.

"But I also know what Dani thinks of Berdych's game because he's told me, so it works both ways."

Murray outclassed Kyrgios in their quarter-final, proving far too good for the 19-year-old Australian.

The two-time grand slam winner mixed up his game with plenty of slices, but said that was down to the wind on court.

"It was a tricky one to judge, to say how well I played, because I found the conditions difficult tonight," Murray said.

"So I tried to use the conditions to my advantage and played a slightly different style than what I had been in the other matches.

"I would say the match against [Grigor] Dimitrov was a very high level. It was a clean match. Both of us were striking the ball well.

"But then tonight, you know, I just tried to play the best with what the conditions were allowing you to do, and I think I did that quite well."

 

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