PRAGUE, Czech Republic - In one of only three all-seeded third-round clashes at the Prague Open 125K, No.24 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova bested No.11 Jaqueline Cristian 7-5, 6-2 to move into the last 16 of the 128-player draw.
An intriguing contest between the former World No.26, ranked down at World No.182 after being sidelined for the second half of 2019 due to a left knee injury, and the 22-year-old Romanian who had held a match point on Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in Lyon just before the Tour shutdown would find Schmiedlova's counterpunching skills too consistent for Cristian's power.
The three-time WTA titlist was twice a break down early in both sets, but smooth hitting - particularly with her signature backhand - enabled her to quickly level each time. In the first set, Schmiedlova found herself largely on the back foot as World No.164 Cristian sought to impose her pace on the rallies from the off, but the Slovak was able to withstand the barrage before sneaking the key break right at the business end, sealing the opening act as a forehand from her opponent sailed wide. In the second, Schmiedlova would exhibit effective aggression of her own to run away with the last four games after a four-break opening sequence.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Clara Tauson, the youngest player remaining in the draw, backed up her upset of No.6 seed Sara Errani in the previous round to triumph 7-6(2), 6-2 in a stellar all-teenage clash over 18-year-old Maja Chwalinska. The match pitted 2019 Australian Open junior champion Tauson's power against the variety and finesse of Polish World No.228 Chwalinska in a potential foreshadowing of a future rivalry at the top of the game, and the stylistic contrast made for a compelling opening set.
The left-handed Chwalinska impressed with her liberal use of the dropshot, soft hands at net and creative use of angles and spin, going up an immediate break and then forcing a tiebreak after Tauson failed to serve out the set. But despite passages of being flummoxed by her opponent, the Danish World No.208 was largely able to stay on the front foot, opening up the court beautifully with big hitting. Tauson held firm to dominate the first-set tiebreak, taking it by pounding a forehand putaway, and then accelerating away with the second set after a marathon six-deuce hold in its opening game.
Tauson was one of three teenagers to progress into the fourth round, and was joined by 19-year-olds Francesca Jones and Elisabetta Cocciaretto, the No.2 seed who concluded the day's play with a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of No.29 seed Bibiane Schoofs.
Jones, the British World No.321, was born with ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia, a rare condition that has left her without two fingers and three toes, but showed off a significant weapon in her heavy forehand as she powered past Andrea Lazaro Garcia 7-5, 6-4. The Spaniard had been adept in dealing with No.1 seed Monica Niculescu's tricks in the previous round, but Jones would repeatedly push her far behind the baseline before finishing points off delicately in the forecourt. Next up for Jones will be the most high-profile opponent of her young career - former Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki, who defeated Chihiro Muramatsu 6-4, 6-4.
However, 19-year-old No.4 seed Leonie Kung was an upset victim - despite racing out to a dominant first set. World No.312 Jessica Pieri, who made her WTA main draw debut by qualifying for Palermo last year, turned the match around by determinedly chasing every ball down for a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory, with Hua Hin runner-up Kung unable to consistently hit through the Italian's defences by the end.
Elsewhere, Belgium's Maryna Zanevska managed to close out a dramatic upset of No.5 seed Lara Arruabarrena 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 after two hours and 15 minutes. The World No.319 held two match points leading 5-1 in the deciding set, only for two-time WTA titlist Arruabarrena to surge back - but Zanevska would hold her nerve in the final two games to edge over the line on her fourth match point.
The tournament's Latina surge also continued apace courtesy of Argentina's No.12 seed Nadia Podoroska, who improved to 28-5 in 2020 after a 6-2, 6-1 dismissal of No.21 seed Cristina Bucsa; and Mexico's No.30 seed Renata Zarazua, an Acapulco semifinalist in February who ended the challenge of the last Czech player in the draw, 2015 Australian Open and Roland Garros girls' doubles champion Miriam Kolodziejova, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2.
Prague Open 125K: Round of 16
Francesca Jones (GBR) vs. Sabine Lisicki (GER)
 Kristina Kucova (SVK) vs. Clara Tauson (DEN)
Jessica Pieri (ITA) vs. Ivana Jorovic (SRB)
Marie Benoit (BEL) vs.  Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR)
Maryna Zanevska (BEL) vs.  Nadia Podoroska (ARG)
Marina Melnikova (RUS) vs.  Renata Zarazua (MEX)
Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE) vs.  Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK)
Georgina Garcia Perez (ESP) vs.  Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA)