Karolina Pliskova’s love affair with the Australian Open continues, the Czech cruising through to the quarterfinals with a 6-3 6-1 victory over Garbine Muguruza inside an hour.
Of the six current and former WTA No.1s to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park, Pliskova was the first to book her spot in the quarters, beating Muguruza to await the winner of Simona Halep and Serena Williams after Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber fell on Sunday.
“I feel better with every match that I play here,” said Pliskova after the win on MCA, the Czech’s favourite court. “I think I played well. Obviously the important thing was the first set when we had some close games – the beginning was nervous from us both. It’s a little bit tricky here, with the wind and the shadows, just have to stay focused.”
Pliskova came into the match with a 7-2 career head-to-head record against Muguruza and, while Muguruza had dropped just one set in reaching the fourth round to Pliskova’s two, the Czech came into the match having spent almost an hour less on court en route to the last 16.
Both players broke early in the opening set, Muruguza striking first before Pliskova levelled up at 2-2. From there, however, the pattern of those previous meetings set in – Pliskova finding her groove, the No.8 seed’s flat drives staying uncomfortably low for the Spaniard, who began spraying errors while asking too much of the ball.
Two cross-court backhand winners from Pliskova brought her two break points at 3-4, clinching the second with an inside-out forehand that landed on the junction on baseline and sideline. The Czech served out with little fuss, ending the set with a solitary unforced error to her name.
Pliskova didn’t let up. A third break followed at the start of the second set, the 26-year-old at one point rushing the net off her return for an easy putaway in testament to her confidence. Muguruza halted her run at five straight games but lost 11 straight points from 1-3 to slip a further break back.
With that, the result was academic. Muguruza was left looking shell-shocked as Pliskova hooked a forehand winner cross-court with the Spaniard serving to stay in the match to no avail, the Czech wrapping things up in 59 minutes when Muguruza sent a backhand long.
With the sun still setting across MCA, Pliskova departed in plenty of time to settle back and watch reigning world No.1 Halep take on 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams.
“For sure it’s going to be the match of the tournament so far,” Pliskova said. ”I know both of them, I’ve played both of them already. It’s definitely going to be tough. Simona is No.1, always tough to play her, and Serena is in great shape and so far hasn’t lost many games. So we’ll see.”
Source: Michael Beattie