Three more Top 6 women’s seeds fell Saturday at the Australian Open. A year from removed from stunning Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova suffered her first loss in seven meetings to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a grinding 7-6(4), 7-6(3) in nearly 2-and-a-half hours.
“I am really happy, it was a lot of fun,” said Pavlyuchenkova. “I really enjoyed it and even had goosebumps after some points. To get a win and beat Karolina for the first time was amazing.”
The lengthy match featured many long games and many blown break opportunities as the Czech missed yet another chance to win her first Slam.
“I think she was playing very well today,” said Pliskova. “Maybe the best that she has played against me so far in the last couple matches. But let’s say I was about 40% today of my game so, of course, then she can feel so much better if I just don’t play enough what I can play.
“But, yeah, that’s how it is. I think especially the important moments she always served well so I had couple chances here and there. First and second set of course some set points. But I think she just played better than me.”
The Russian Pavlyuchenkova now meets former champion Angelique Kerber who outlasted Camila Giorgi in three sets. The German is the last former champion left in the women’s draw.
“I’m happy to be in the second week,” said Kerber. “Now it’s the same like the first week for me. I’m trying to staying focused, trying to keep going and playing, from round to round, better tennis. I have to improve. And it’s good to win a match like today which was really close and, yeah, just two points decide the match.”
Former semifinalist Elise Mertens looks ready to return to that stage after toughing out pesky 20-year-old CiCi Bellis 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-0. The American seemed to have the momentum going into the third, but Mertens cruised to victory in the decider.
Mertens will now have to deal with former finalist Simona Halep who continues to look like she’s in form. The 2018 finalist upended Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-4.
“I expected this kind of match,” Halep said. “I knew how she’s playing, but she played a little bit stronger with the forehand than I expected. I knew that I had to attack her serve, to serve well, because she’s hitting the return well.
“I think I have improved in my serve. Also the return looks pretty good. I go to the net. I have some dropshots included in my game, so it’s a big step. I’m happy with my game.”
Halep hasn’t dropped a set in three matches.
Garbine Muguruza sent a message. The former No. 1 who has dropped in the rankings destroyed No. 1 Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-2. Muguruza was 1-5 against the Ukrainian on hard courts.
“I was very concentrated and focused on what I had to do,” Muguruza said. “Everything went pretty quickly my way, so I’ll take it,” she said after the clash.
“We always have good matches, so I was really looking forward to playing her.
“I played a very good match. I managed to stop her and took the match to my side, which I’m very happy about.”
Kiki Bertens was a late 6-2, 7-6(3) winner over Zarinka Diyas. She now gets the Spaniard.
Anett Kontaveit dropped just one game in a beatdown over No. 6 Belinda Bencic. The Estonian meets 18-year-old Iga Swiatek who knocked out Donna Vekic.
The fourth round begins tomorrow with World No. 1 Ash Barty against American Alison Riske. Petra Kvitova meets Greece’s Maria Sakkari and Coco Gauff continues her rocket rise against the tricky Sofia Kenin.
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