Magda Linette extended her career-best run through a Grand Slam event at the Australian Open on Wednesday, upsetting former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5 to reach the first major semifinal of her career.
“Maybe I still don’t really believe it,” Linette said with a smile in her post-match press conference.
On sunny Rod Laver Arena, World No.45 Linette took 87 minutes to stun No.30 seed Pliskova and continue to represent the Polish presence in the draw following the Round of 16 loss by World No.1 Iga Swiatek.
Breakthrough performance: Before this event, 30-year-old Linette had never progressed beyond the third round of a major, and she had lost in that round six times. But in the 30th major main draw of her career, Linette is putting together the best Grand Slam run of her life.
Pliskova became Linette’s fourth consecutive seeded victim of the fortnight. Linette had already beaten three Top 20 seeds in succession (No.16 Anett Kontaveit, No.19 Ekaterina Alexandrova and No.4 Caroline Garcia) to become the ninth-oldest woman in the Open Era to reach a debut Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Linette, who is projected to make her Top 30 debut following this event, is the third Polish woman in the Open Era to make the Australian Open semifinals. She joins not only current World No.1 Swiatek on that list, but also former World No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska, who was in attendance on Wednesday watching Linette’s upset win.
On the upswing: Pliskova came into the quarterfinal clash with a 7-2 head-to-head lead on Linette, but the Pole had rattled Pliskova in their last two meetings. Pliskova needed a third-set tiebreak to squeak out a win in the first round of last year’s US Open, and in their most recent encounter, Linette beat the Czech 6-4, 6-1 in the Billie Jean King Cup at the end of 2022.
Linette made it two wins in a row by matching Pliskova in winners — 18 apiece — while keeping her unforced error count at 16. Pliskova, on the other hand, was undone by 36 unforced errors in the clash.
“I think I did really well not to panic and still stay in the rally and go for the shots when I had the chance,” Linette said, regarding the keys to her win. “That was, I think, something I did the best.”
Key moments: Linette was broken in the first game of the match, but that was her only loss of serve all day, and she immediately pulled back level at 1-1. Linette opened the 3-2 game by following a backhand slice with a winning drop shot, and she broke Pliskova at love from there.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Linette had to stare down a break point after a blistering forehand by Pliskova, but the Pole pulled her way out of trouble to move a set away from her first major semifinal.
In the second set, Pliskova erased three break points in each of her service games at 2-2 and 3-3, but she faltered at 5-5 with two straight double faults and a subsequent forehand miscue. Linette grabbed her opportunity, converting her first match point at 6-5 for another huge upset.
Sabalenka next: Linette will face her fifth seeded player in a row when she takes on World No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals. The winner will reach her first Grand Slam final. Sabalenka has won both of their previous meetings in straight sets.
“I will just try what I’m doing this whole week,” Linette said, looking ahead to the semifinal. “I’m being very consistent, returning really well, and keeping my serves. I think she will be, you know, just a little bit more consistent version of being aggressive on every single shot. I will just need to serve really well again .
“I will try to do my best on the return, and I have been doing that pretty well the last two matches, especially when the opponent was kind of similar.”