Tennis: Luminous Linette reaches Australian Open semi-finals

Photo: Andy Cheung/Getty Images

Poland’s Magda Linette continued her dream run at the Australian Open on Wednesday with a stunning victory over former world number one Karolína Plíšková to move into the semi-finals, where she will play fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka.

The Belarusian might have her hands full against unheralded Linette, who played wonderfully controlled tennis that belied her ranking of 45th in the world to wrap up a thoroughly deserved victory over Plíšková 6-3 7-5.

Linette, who looked shocked at her own outstanding performance after winning the match, had been expected to play second fiddle to fellow Pole and world number one Iga Świątek at Melbourne Park. However, she will now play a first Grand Slam semi-final on Thursday in a match that will decide who meets Victoria Azarenka or Elena Rybakina in the final.

“It's so much and I can't really believe it,” the 30-year-old said. “I will never forget this. I'm breaking through some really difficult things for me. This will stay with me for life. So I'm really grateful.”

Linette had no problems serving out her quarter-final against twice Grand Slam finalist Plíšková, who made 36 unforced errors and was always chasing the match.

The Czech knew she had to raise her game in the second set after losing the first but Linette had the answer to everything thrown at her.

“She really played well from the baseline,” said Plíšková. “I just didn't find any space in the court to go for my winners. Obviously, the serve was not great today at all.”

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.”

Linette’s semi-final opponent Aryna Sabalenka, the only top-10 seed left in the draw, earned her place in the last four by outmuscling Donna Vekić 6-3 6-2 in a ferocious battle of big hitters on a baking Rod Laver Arena.