Former World No.1s don’t normally go under the radar at the Australian Open, but Karolina Pliskova has cruised into the Last 16 at Melbourne Park almost unnoticed—and is yet to drop a set.
The 30-year-old Czech served up a 6-4, 6-2 demolition of 97th-ranked Russian Varvara Gracheva on Rod Laver Arena in the third round on Saturday.
It was a vintage performance from the 30th seed, a two-time Grand Slam finalist. She sent down six aces and lost just 11 points in her nine service games and, on this form, must be rated a danger to any of the top seeds.
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It was a marked contrast to last season when she plummeted from fourth in the world at the start of the year to 31st, her lowest year-end ranking since 2013.
Another second-round exit at Wimbledon prompted her to sack coach Sascha Bajin, the German who had guided Naomi Osaka to back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open. In December she rehired Bajin. “Thank you for having me back,” the coach tweeted. “Let’s go get it.”
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