Azarenka dismisses Pliskova to set up Stephens semi-final in Miami

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Victoria Azarenka booked her place in the semi-finals of the Miami Open after edging Karolina Pliskova 7-5 6-3.

The three-time champion got off to a strong start, breaking her opponent twice in the opening set, but the number five seed dug deep to take three games in a row and tie the set at 5-5.

From there, Pliskova gifted Azarenka a break after her fourth double fault and on her fifth set point, Azarenka converted for the early lead.

Pliskova’s problems on her second serve continued in the second set and despite back-and-forth breaks, Azarenka continued to apply the pressure to seal the match in an hour and a half.

Speaking on the court after the match, she said: “It wasn’t easy. Karolina is a very good player. I felt like I had a very good lead and I let it go – she really stepped it up so I had to fight back.”

She will now face US Open champion Sloane Stephens, who brushed aside Angelique Kerber in straight sets to advance to her first semi-final place since her victory in New York

The American stunned the number 10 seed with a forceful forehand despite windy conditions, notching up 11 winners in the 23-minute first set, and going on to claim a 6-1 6-2 victory in just over one hour on court.

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