Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova secured her first career victory in seven attempts over world number two Karolina Pliskova on Saturday as the Australian Open lost another high seed in the third round.
Russian Pavlyuchenkova battled to a 7-6(4) 7-6(3) win over the second-seeded Czech, who joined defending champion Naomi Osaka and 23-times Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in making third-round exits.
Pavlyuchenkova had a 4-1 lead in the first set and a 2-0 lead in the second before being taken to tiebreaks but won the key points to clinch victory in two hours, 25 minutes.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m still in the match and focusing on the next point,” Pavlyuchenkova said.
“I love the heat even though everyone is saying ‘You’re from Russia, you love cold weather.’ NO! I hate it actually.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2020
“I was thinking that if I take one or two games on her serve that would be amazing because she is the ace queen on the tour so that was my goal, so I was focusing on returning well.
“I also managed to hold on my serve too, so that helped.”
She will next meet three-times Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round after the German beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena.
Kerber reaches fourth round in Melbourne with win over Giorgi
Angelique Kerber moved into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday with a 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3 win over Camila Giorgi, extending her unbeaten record against the Italian to 5-0.
The German 17th seed, who won the title in 2016, was barely troubled in the first set as the erratic Giorgi served up eight double faults and 20 unforced errors.
However, Giorgi cut out the misfires and dialled in her groundstrokes in the second set, striking a forehand winner in the tie-break to level the match.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2020
Kerber upped her game in the third set against her 102nd-ranked opponent, breaking the Italian to go up 5-3 before serving out the victory in two hours and eight minutes.
Simona Halep sees off Yulia Putintseva in straight sets to advance
Simona Halep proved too strong for Kazakh Yulia Putintseva in their first career meeting as the Romanian fourth seed sailed through to the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-1 6-4 win on Saturday.
Former world number one Halep, who reached the Melbourne Park final in 2018, broke Putintseva’s serve three times in the first set and twice in the second.
Putintseva, ranked 38th in the world, broke Halep once in each set and surprised her opponent with some well-disguised drop shots, though her last attempt hit the net to end the match.
Another straight sets victory for Simona and she is looking great as she gets deeper and deeper in the draw. Simona Halep defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-4. She will face winner of Mertens vs Bellis next.#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/wcdQZlZIj1
— 🇷🇴WTA Romania🇷🇴 (@WTARomania) January 25, 2020
Twice Grand Slam champion Halep, 28, will next meet the winner of the third-round match between Belgian No. 16 seed Elise Mertens and American Catherine Bellis.
Belinda Bencic bandwagon shudders to a halt in Kontaveit rout
Sixth seed Belinda Bencic’s hopes of exploiting a string of upsets at the Australian Open lasted exactly 49 minutes on Saturday, just long enough for a ruthless Anett Kontaveit to administer a 6-0 6-1 third-round thrashing at Melbourne Park.
Bencic had been on a good run of form after years of battling injury, toppling defending champion Naomi Osaka to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open last year and earning her highest seeding at a Grand Slam for Melbourne Park.
Kontaveit was supposed to play the Swiss in the third round at Flushing Meadows only to withdraw with a viral illness that cut short her 2019 season and sent the Estonian hurtling down the rankings to number 31 in the world.
On Saturday’s evidence, Bencic would never have made it to the encounter with Osaka that revitalised her career as the powerful Estonian simply blew her off the court at the Margaret Court Arena.
“She played a great match. Really solid. I think I was a little bit overwhelmed,” said Bencic, 22.
“There is not much you can do. You can just try and fight. Obviously it didn’t work out for me today. I didn’t feel my best on the court but she was playing really well.
“I was trying to hang in there, trying to fight.”
Kontaveit hit 21 winners in the short contest and Bencic made 18 unforced errors, including the wild swipe of a forehand return that sent her opponent into a fourth round meeting with Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.
“Didn’t work out well for me today,” Bencic added. “But I’m really happy for her because last time we were supposed to play, something bad happened to her.”
With the last three champions — Osaka, Caroline Wosniaki and Serena Williams — knocked out on Friday and second seed Karolina Pliskova upset on Saturday, the women’s draw at Melbourne Park is wide open.
“It’s the same at every Grand Slam. There are upsets and I think it’s normal because it’s tennis, and tennis is very unpredictable,” said Bencic.
“I don’t really care so much now who is going to win.”
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