Top seed Karolina Pliskova suffered a shock 6-1, 7-6(2) loss to Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the second round of the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
Pliskova, a former world number one, had no answer to the power of Garcia who fired 30 winners to the Czech's 13.
Pliskova went 5-0 down in the opening set and although she fought back in the second, Garcia dominated the tiebreak to advance.
Garcia will face American Jennifer Brady in the next round. Pliskova congratulated her opponent after being unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament and said she was already gearing up for redemption on the clay of Roland Garros.
The match also marked the earliest exit by a top seed at Flushing Meadows since Simona Halep's opening round loss in 2018.
Pliskova, who finished runner-up in New York four years ago, denied that she had crumbled under the weight of expectation, pointing instead to her opponent's stellar performance.
“This (seeding) has nothing to do with my loss today,” Pliskova told reporters. “I think there are just some girls who are playing good tennis... Garcia is one of them.
“I think she played amazing set and a half. Of course I got my chances later in the second set.”
Pliskova, who has reached the last 16 or better in her past four appearances in New York, clawed her way back into the match after winning three consecutive games to take a 5-4 lead in the second set, only to squander two set points on Garcia's serve.
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Garcia held her nerve to force a tiebreak, wrapping up the win and improving her head-to-head record against Pliskova to four wins in seven meetings, leaving the Czech to rue a bad day at the office.
“I didn't serve that great, especially early in the match. But that's how it is sometimes. I'm not a robot, so I don't have to play every day amazing,” Pliskova said.
The world number three is clearly still rusty after the tour's long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is hoping to get a couple of tournaments under her belt before the French Open begins later this month.
“I'm in Rome, after in Strasbourg, too, then of course Paris. I think I'm going to start to practice as early as possible on clay,” she said. “I mean, we just started. I think there is no reason to panic really.”