Svitolina stuns Pliskova in Rome

Elina Svitolina was responsible for a big upset at the Italian Open on Friday, defeating second seed Karolina Pliskova in straight sets.

Svitolina had lost all four of her previous matches against Pliskova, but bucked the trend in fine style with a 6-3, 7-6 (11-9) victory.

The Ukrainian produced a masterclass defensive display that neutralised Pliskova's attacking options and put her under constant pressure.

Pliskova was only able to hold serve once during the first set, and quickly found herself a set and 0-2 down.

But she showed great spirit from there, hitting back with two breaks of her own to take a 5-4 lead and give herself a chance of leveling the scores at a set apiece.

But it was clearly Svitolina's day. The 22-year-old found another break when she needed it and then saved three set points during the tie-break to clinch victory by the narrowest of margins.

“I was a little bit unlucky, especially in the second set with all the set points,” Pliskova told WTA Insider afterwards. “But this happens – it’s tennis and it’s normal.

“I would say I’ve had three good matches here, which is better than all the other tournaments where I was playing on clay. It’s definitely an improvement, and there’s still Paris in front of me.”

Svitolina moves on the semi-finals where she will face Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Venus Williams 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

The second semi-final sees Madrid champion Simona Halep take on Kiki Bertens.

Friday's quarter-final results in Rome

Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) beat Venus Williams (U.S.) 6-2 3-6 6-2       
Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) beat Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 6-2 7-6(9) 
Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) beat Daria Gavrilova (Australia) 6-3 6-3           
Simona Halep (Romania) beat Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) 6-2 6-4