Karolina Pliskova’s quest for a maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open came to an end on Friday as the second seed lost 6-3 6-3 to Croatia’s Petra Martic.
The powerful Czech struggled throughout to find the range on her feared serve and forehand as 31st seed Martic matched her best performance by reaching the last 16.
Martic broke in the seventh game and then again two games later as Pliskova hit a backhand long to drop the opener.
A lacklustre Pliskova then dropped serve again at the start of the second set before hitting back with a flurry of winners to break her 28-year-old opponent twice in a row.
The fightback did not last though and Matic regained control with two more breaks before serving it out at 5-3.
We definitely should be talking about her more.
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) 31 May 2019
Martic will play an unseeded player next, either Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi or Russian Veronika Kudermetova.
There was better news for Pliskova’s fellow Czech Marketa Vondrousova as the 19-year-old reached the last 16 with a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Spanish 28th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
Gabrine Muguruza in the mood as she powers into fourth round
Spaniard Garbine Muguruza laid down an impressive marker at the French Open as she overpowered ninth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 on Friday to set up a fourth-round clash with last year’s runner-up Sloane Stephens.
The 19th seed has struggled for consistency this year, hence her low seeding, but Roland Garros tends to bring the best out of her. And so it proved again as the 2016 champion outplayed the Ukrainian on a sunny Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I feel very good in this tournament. I have always loved it since I was a little girl,” Muguruza, who improved her career record at the French Open to 27-5, told reporters.
“I also love the clay. Yeah, I don’t know what it is about the French Open that always gives me a nice mood, and my tennis develops much better.”
The tall Muguruza made her intentions clear from the start, planting herself on the baseline and blazing away with her baseline power-game that Svitolina struggled to contain.
Making mincemeat of Svitolina’s serve, she broke five times in the opening set, allowing her opponent only seven points on her own delivery, albeit dropping her own serve three times.
A series of service holds broke the pattern at the start of the second set before Svitolina speared an inside-out forehand winner to break and nudge 3-2 ahead.
Muguruza simply raised the intensity again, however, and won an exhausting 22-stroke rally to level at 3-3.
The two-time Grand Slam champion then powered through the last three games to book her place in the fourth round for the sixth time in eight appearances.
Muguruza made 29 unforced errors, compared with 23 winners — a consequence of the aggressive tactics she employed. Key to her domination, however, were the 26 errors she pressurised Svitolina into making.
“This is always the idea. I have an aggressive type of game. At the beginning, we fought and I managed to hold my serve and to get the first set. I managed to dominate and play cleverly.”
American seventh seed Stephens, a specialist counter-puncher, will provide another tough test in the last 16.