MELBOURNE, Australia - Former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova took down fellow Czech and Fed Cup teammate Lucie Safarova to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open for the second time in her career.
Pliskova struck 11 aces and needed two tight sets to see off her countrywoman in a 7-6(6), 7-5 battle lasting an hour and 38 minutes.
“It’s tough to play another Czech player especially as we are Fed Cup teammates,” Pliskova said on-court inside Margaret Court Arena. “It’s always close but I served well and that’s the key for me.”
Both players were largely dominant on serve for the course of the match, facing just three break points combined. Pliskova served 77% of her first serves in for the match, winning 85% of the points, and saved the lone break point she faced in her first service game of the second set.
Safarova, to her credit, hung with Pliskova despite only serving a pair of aces to her compatriot's near-dozen, and blinked just once on her delivery - but it was enough to cost her the match.
Neither player faced a break point on serve in the opening set, and in fact, only one game went to deuce as Safarova held to force the tiebreak.
A pair of love holds for the World No.6 helped her drop just six points in total over her first six service games, but it was the No.6 seed who lost the first point on serve in the tiebreak to begin it.
Nonetheless, she got it back on the third point, and both players coasted through on serve until Safarova held set point at 6-5, looking to win just her second set against her younger compatriot in their past four meetings.
However, Pliskova saved the chance with aplomb, crunching a forehand winner down the line to bring the two to a second change of ends, and sealed the set as Safarova missed a pair of backhands.
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Pliskova advances to play either Barbora Strycova - another Czech - or American Bernarda Pera in the fourth round.
More to follow...