The upsets continued at the Australian Open on Saturday as second seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova joined Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka in exiting the tournament in the third round.
Pliskova had won all six of her previous meetings with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but it was the Russian who came out on top of a very tight two-setter, winning 7-6 (4) 7-6 (3) after two hours and 25 minutes.
Pliskova had two set points at 6-5 in the second set but Pavlyuchenkova saved both and progressed to the fourth round in Melbourne for the third time in four years.
Now 28, Pavlyuchenkova is still trying to live up to the stellar predictions made of her as a junior after she won the girls’ singles title here in 2006 at the age of 14. Her opponent in that final was Caroline Wozniacki, so the Dane’s retirement on Friday had particular resonance.
“I still see my picture and it’s a strange feeling,” said Pavlyuchenkova. “I still remember, it was a special moment, but it makes me feel, ‘Damn, how old am I?’
“And beating Caroline in the final, and she retired yesterday. Everybody has their own story and their own way I guess. “I still have energy, ambitions, motivation, I’m hungry, I want to achieve bigger things. It’s a marathon and I started my marathon really, really slow and maybe she sprinted right away.”
Pliskova was not happy at all with her performance, saying: “I think she was playing very well today. But let’s say I was about 40 per cent 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.”