Magda Linette reacted with disbelief after continuing her dream run into the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday with a stunning 6-3 7-5 victory over former world number one Karolina Pliskova.
The unheralded Pole played wonderfully controlled tennis that belied her ranking of 45th in the world to wrap up a thoroughly deserved victory in the blazing sun on Rod Laver Arena.
Linette had been expected to play second fiddle to compatriot Iga Swiatek at Melbourne Park but will now battle for a place in the final against Aryna Sabalenka or Donna Vekic, who face off in Wednesday’s second quarter-final.
“It’s so much and I can’t really believe it,” the 30-year-old said. “It’s really dreams come true. We keep going, though, I don’t want to get too excited because we’re still in the tournament, but I’m super grateful and happy.”
After both players were broken in their opening service game, Linette showed the greater composure and took control of the first set as twice Grand Slam finalist Pliskova racked up 14 of the 36 unforced errors she would make over the match.
Pliskova knew she had to raise her game in the second set and ramped up the rasping forehands but Linette had the answer to everything the Czech threw at her.
She saved two break points to hold for 2-2 and then earned three of her own on Pliskova’s next service game only for the Czech to battle back with a couple of big winners.
The set stayed on serve but Linette appeared to have the upper hand, winning one point with a sublime running backhand crosscourt winner, and she pounced to break for 6-5 when Pliskova offered her two chances with a double fault.
She threw her racket to the ground after serving out nervelessly for the match, clasping her head and staring wide-eyed at her box after reaching the last four for the first time in 30 Grand Slam appearances.
“I will never forget this,” she added. “I’m breaking through some really difficult things for me. This will stay with me for life. So I’m really grateful.”
Linette had never been past the third round at a Grand Slam before arriving at Melbourne Park this year and said a change in mentality was behind her fairytale run.
“I think through all my life I’ve been taking mistakes losses very personally,” she explained. “So to disconnect (life) as a tennis player and a person was really difficult because I felt a lot of times that the mistakes were defining me.
“My coaches did a really great job and I’m really thankful to them because they really put up with a lot of crap.”
Later on Wednesday, Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul meet in the first all-American men’s Grand Slam quarter-final since 2007, and overwhelming favourite Novak Djokovic faces Andrey Rublev in bid to reach a 10th Melbourne Park semi-final.
Leading Mexico players snub Davis Cup tie over differences with federation | Tennis News
Mexico’s leading tennis players have decided not to play in next week’s Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Taiwan due to differences with the Mexican Tennis Federation (FMT).
Led by Santiago Gonzalez, Alejandro Hernandez and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, the players said they will not take part in the Feb. 4-5 Group I playoff tie in Metepec, State of Mexico.
“After a difficult deliberation, we have not reached a positive conclusion, so we have decided not to participate in the upcoming series against the Chinese Taipei team,” said the players’ statement, published on social media on Monday.
“The lack of communication, lack of planning and lack of interest show that the situation has not been handled in the right way and that personal interests have taken precedence over sporting ones.
“It is sad that the FMT does not have the minimum standards in dealing and planning with the best national representatives.”
The players said they had already informed the federation of their reasons for not participating in the Davis Cup tie.
The statement was also signed by players Ernesto Escobedo, Lucas Gomez, Hans Hach, Gerardo Lopez, and Manuel Sanchez.
The FMT was not immediately available to comment.
West Ham set up Man United tie by beating Derby | Football News
West Ham United eased into the FA Cup fifth round with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to third-tier Derby County on Monday to set up a meeting with Manchester United.
Derby, fourth in League One, went into the match on the back of 14 matches unbeaten in all competitions but were quickly overrun by the Premier League side, who took the lead in the 10th minute with a close-range volley from Jarrod Bowen.
Bowen went 12 matches without a goal before netting twice against Everton last week and now has three in his last two games.
The forward then crossed for striker Michail Antonio to head in a second goal five minutes after the interval to break his own goal drought stretching back to November.
David Moyes’ side saw out the victory without conceding many chances, recording back-to-back wins for the first time since October, and Bowen said he hoped the win would boost his side, who are 16th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.
“Two wins on the bounce is good for us it’s all about results and momentum and we can use this as a real springboard,” he said.
Midfielder Pablo Fornals added: “Everyone knows it hasn’t been an easy season so every game we can win gives us massive confidence.
“We work hard every day in training to get a chance and then you have to take it. That’s what the players tried to do tonight.”
Valencia sacks coach Gennaro Gattuso for poor results | Football News
Spanish club Valencia sacked coach Gennaro Gattuso on Monday following the team’s poor results.
Valencia said in a statement it reached a mutual agreement with Gattuso to end their contract.
The announcement came after a 1-0 loss at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday. The club has won only one of its last 10 league games, before the World Cup.
The latest defeat dropped Valencia to 14th place, one point above the relegation zone.
Its only two wins this year came in the Copa del Rey, though it was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Athletic Bilbao at home last week. In the Spanish Super Cup, Valencia lost to Real Madrid in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.
The 45-year-old Gattuso arrived last June on a two-year contract.
The former defensive midfielder helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup and AC Milan win two Champions League titles, both as a player. He coached Milan and Napoli in Italy.
Valencia did not announce a replacement for Gattuso.
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