Karolina Pliskova said she never got into her comfort zone on Saturday as the sixth seed exited the Australian Open following a 7-5, 7-5 third-round defeat by Czech compatriot Karolina Muchova at Rod Laver Arena.
Pliskova’s frustrations boiled over in the first set as she received a code violation for racket abuse and was then handed a point deduction for smashing another racket in the tunnel between sets. Pliskova told a news conference she had been a little bit surprised at the second warning but that it had had a positive impact on her game.
“I think actually it helped me in the second set because I was (annoyed) so I started to play well,” she said.
After losing the opening set Pliskova raced to a 5-0 lead in the second before the wheels came off, allowing Muchova to complete the victory and reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time.
“There was long game for 5-1 and 6-0. I thought she just played little bit better at this moment,” Pliskova added. “Of course, I played quite amazing to 5-0, but then it’s quite tough to hold this level.
“I had chances ... on my serve, I just could do so many things better today. I don’t think my game is the top for sure. I don’t want to be too sarcastic and too negative because I just lost. The feeling was not great from any of my matches here. I think overall, too many mistakes, too much panic in the rallies. I don’t know if it’s just not having any matches much lately. I don’t feel like safe with anything I was doing on the court.”
Muchova, the World No. 27, next faces either Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic or Elise Mertens of Belgium for a place in the quarterfinals.
World No. 61 Jessica Pegula reached the fourth round by drubbing Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-1. Even Pegula seemed surprised by her best career showing at a major tournament, which started with a first-round win over two-time Australian champion Victoria Azarenka.
“I don’t really expect to be playing this good next match,” Pegula, the daughter of Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the NFL Bills and NHL Sabres, said of her fourth-rounder against No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina.