Pliskova, Azarenka ease into semis

Victoria Azarenka has cruised into the semi-finals at Indian Wells with a 6-0 6-0 demolition job of unseeded Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova.

Azarenka will play Karolina Pliskova, who beat 18-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2 in an hour.

Azarenka broke Rybarikova six times and connected on 60 per cent of her first serves. Rybarikova had 25 unforced errors and just nine winners and after losing the first set, she took a medical timeout to have her upper thigh taped heavily.

Azarenka has dropped one set in four matches so far; When she won Indian Wells in 2012 she also dropped just one set.

As for Pliskova she was similarly dominant and blasted 30 winners and powered down nine aces to end Kasatkina’s fairytale run in California, wrapping up the win in just over an hour at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The 18-year-old Russian was unable to replicate the form she produced in ousting 12th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets in the previous round as she was overpowered by the world No.19.

“I was really happy with the way I played, I think it was one of the best matches that I played here so far,” Pliskova said.

“I played some good tennis this week, and then there is Miami (next week), so I have chances to improve my ranking and get close to the top 10 again.”

Pliskova, who ended last year a career-high 11th in the rankings, will next face either 2012 champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus or Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova, who are scheduled to play later on Thursday.

Top seed Serena Williams will take on third-seeded Pole Agnieska Radwanska in the other semi-final on Friday.

While Kasatkina’s dream run at Indian Wells finally came to an end, the 48th-ranked Russian teen was able to reflect on her rapid improvement since this time last year when she was toiling away on the lower-tier ITF circuit.

“Now I’m (going to be) top 40, last year I was 340. Yeah, it was pretty fast,” Kasatkina said.

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