(Reuters) - Former world number one Karolina Pliskova lost her way midway through a "strange" encounter with Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday, before recovering to blaze past the Australian 6-1 1-6 6-1 and into the Brisbane International semi-finals.
After easing through the opening set in 26 minutes, Pliskova appeared to switch off as world number 46 Tomljanovic switched gears to win five games without reply before levelling the contest at one set apiece.
Pliskova was jolted back to life in the decider and showed the poise that has accompanied her rise up the rankings, as the world number eight raced to a 5-0 lead before sealing victory.
"It was a strange match today, but the beginning of the sets was important. I've never had a match like this, but I'm happy I'm back in the semis," Pliskova, who fired 14 aces and 27 winners, said.
"I was a little bit flat after the first set. She improved in the second set and it went quickly... she was more aggressive and serving much better."
Standing between Pliskova and a second Brisbane final in three seasons is Croatian Donna Vekic, who she last beat in the Pan Pacific Open semis last September.
Vekic earlier dismantled last year's finalist Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-0.
In the men's draw, fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev, who beat former world number one Andy Murray in his previous match, rallied to knock out another former champion in Milos Raonic to reach the last-four.
The Russian, ranked 16 in the world, prevailed 6-7(2) 6-3 6-4 over the 2016 winner to set up a meeting with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
"I like the way I played these two matches against great players... champions of our sport," Medvedev, who saved eight break points against the big-serving Raonic, said.
"Despite the many chances that he had, I managed to hold my serves so I'm happy about it and the win... to see that what I have been working on in the off-season works in Brisbane is already a good sign."
Unseeded Tsonga defeated local favourite Alex De Minaur 6-4 7-6(2) to advance.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)