SHENZHEN, China - The upsets kept coming on Tuesday at the Shenzhen Open.
After Anna Blinkova defeated top seed Belinda Bencic in the opening round, unseeded Kristyna Pliskova dismissed defending champion and No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the second match on Centre Court to reach the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-4.
The left-handed Pliskova twin served notice in the 89-minute second round victory, as she not only ended Sabalenka's bid to defend her title from a year ago, but handed the Belarusian just her second defeat in her last 11 matches on Chinese soil.
"She's playing so fast, so I had to be ready from the first point. My serve was there, which is always important, so I'm happy that I won," Pliskova said after the match.
"I'm happy because I reached the quarterfinals here two years ago, so I'm happy to be back there and looking to see if I can do more."
.@KrisPliskova knocks out defending champion Sabalenka at the #ShenzhenOpen!— WTA (@WTA) January 7, 2020
Sealing her place in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-4! pic.twitter.com/eWqGU2oS9C
The World No.11 won the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai to end her 2019 singles campaign, and surrendered just three games in defeating Russian Margarita Gasparyan in the first round.
But Pliskova was pitch-perfect behind her southpaw serve in the match, as she hammered 15 aces, won 87 percent of the points behind her first delivery, and saved 11 break points along the way to victory in the first meeting between the two players.
"I didn't feel it on court that it was 11," Pliskova said. "Every time, I feel like I hit a good serve, and she missed a couple, but I'm happy that she didn't break me.
"In the first match, I was struggling with my serve and everything, but today was much better. Hopefully, I can improve again with the next match."
Superb play from @KrisPliskova! 👏#ShenzhenOpen pic.twitter.com/w0h6tzibnV— WTA (@WTA) January 7, 2020
Nine of the 11 break point chances that Pliskova faced came in the second set after she already built herself a comfortable advantage at a set and a break.
After breaking Sabalenka's serve to love to lead 6-4, 3-2, the Czech saved four break points in a key sixth game, and erased five more in the eighth game en route to recording the upset victory.
In the last eight, Pliskova will face former Top 30 player Kateryna Bondarenko, who advanced to her first quarterfinal since winning the 2017 Tashkent Open by upsetting No.8 seed Zhang Shuai, 7-6(8), 6-3.
Competing in just her fourth tournament in the past 16 months, Bondarenko gave birth to her second child last year, and returned to competitive tennis in September.