March 29, 2019 / 6:23 AM / 25 days ago

Tennis: Czech Pliskova and Aussie Barty to meet in Miami final

(Reuters) - Karolina Pliskova reached the Miami Open final with an emphatic 7-5 6-1 win over second seed Simona Halep in soggy south Florida on Thursday night.

Mar 28, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic returns a shot back to Simona Halep of Romania (not pictured) during the semi-finals at the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Czech fifth seed will meet Ashleigh Barty in Saturday’s final, after the 12th seeded Australian beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-3 in the other semi-final on a day that tested the patience with a seemingly endless number of rain delays.

Pliskova and Romanian Halep played a tight first set, which Pliskova eventually clinched with some outstanding court coverage as she used her long reach to chase down a series of shots by Halep that would have been winners against many a player.

Suitably buoyed, Pliskova raced through the second set and was on the brink of victory, up 5-0 when another shower sent the players to the locker room as the clock struck midnight.

They eventually returned an hour later for Pliskova to close it out in a near-empty arena.

Earlier, Barty was forced to wait out an hour-long rain delay before her match and when it started she and 21st seed Kontaveit were only on the court for about five minutes before weather halted play again.

They returned about two-and-a-half hours later to play one more game and then headed back to the locker room for a third rain delay, this time for two hours.

Barty finally secured the win with an ace on her second match point, six-and-a-half hours after the original scheduled start.

“I have been here for 12 hours today, but really happy with the way I was able to come out after the rain delays and kind of get on the front foot pretty early,” said Barty, 22, who has three career titles.

“I did the best with what I had and was able to get out of some tight service games at crucial times and get a bit of a roll on.”

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina and Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom/Sudipto Ganguly

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