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Tennis: Pliskova, Mattek-Sands eye first WTA title

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

American wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands and the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova strolled into the BMW Malaysian Open final Saturday with both seeking their first WTA singles crown.

Mattek-Sands, who has 12 doubles titles to her name, including last week's Dubai Duty Free Championships with Sania Mirza, cruised past third seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-4, 6-1 in 73 minutes to set-up a meeting with Pliskova on Sunday.

"This is an important tournament for me as I'll be going for my first singles title. It will mean more to me than my 12 doubles crowns if I were to win it," said Mattek-Sands, who is ranked world No. 197.

"I reached as high as 30 before all my injuries and I hope this is a good start for me to climb up the rankings.

"Anastasia played well but lost a bit of focus after the 30-minute rain delayed between sets.

"I took advantage of that to seal the win. I'm lucky to have played the last two matches in the evening so I wasn't too tired," she added.

Earlier Saturday, Pliskova crushed Ayumi Morita 6-0, 6-2 in 47 minutes to reach her first WTA final.

World number 127 Pliskova, who has not dropped a set in the tournament, said she was surprised by the ease of the victory and by how well she has been playing in the BMW Malaysian Open.

"I expected a tough match but and I'm surprised it wasn't," said Pliskova, who turns 21 on March 21.

"I've been better in other tournaments but the results were not as good as this. I'm excited to play in my first final and can't wait to see who I'll be playing.

"I'm quite surprised I have yet to drop a set but I did tell myself I must finish the matches off quickly as the weather is really tough," she added.

World number 55 Morita, meanwhile, said she had been nervous and tired.

"I tried to play my best today but couldn't get a good rhythm. I made too many unforced errors and it was difficult to break her," said Morita, who has played in all four Malaysian Open tournaments, reaching the semi-finals twice -- in 2010 and this year -- and the quarter-finals in 2011 and 2012.

"I was nervous as I wanted to reach the final. I was feeling a little tired. The heat today was not great. I played a long match yesterday and she played very well."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130302/tennis-pliskova-mattek-sands-eye-first-wta-title