NEW YORK - No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova saved match point and fired a tournament record 24 aces to defeat 2019 French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova, 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(7) and advance to the third round at the US Open. The Czech's career-high 24 aces are the most by a woman at the US Open since the stat was recorded in 1998.
In a match of pure first-strike tennis, the margins were small as Pliskova and Anisimova ran up the winners column on the stat sheet. The duo exchanged a total of three breaks in the opening set, but neither would lose a service game for the rest of the match. Pliskova held serve in 17 of her 18 service games, while Anisimova held in 16 of her 18. With both women serving above 70% and hitting their spots off the ground, the match-up led to an exhilarating style of bang-bang tennis.
"I thought without my serve, tonight would not be possible," Pliskova said. "I suppose also because I put so much pressure on my serve with her, I think she also needed to serve this way. I thought we kind of pushed each other with the serve, so that's why we hold.
"For women's tennis, normally there is break, break, break, break. That's quite impressive I think."
Neither Pliskova nor Anisimova faced a break point in the second set, and the two calmly traded holds to force a tiebreak. In a tense tiebreaker, the Czech fired two ill-timed double-faults to give the American a reprieve. After Anisimova hit her first double fault of the match at 5-4, she gamely followed it up with a stunning crosscourt backhand winner, her 28th of the match, to earn her first set point. Pliskova stood to the line and hit her second double fault of the tiebreaker, as the partisan crowd roared in support of the feisty teen.
Turning Point: Riding the momentum and crowd support into the third set, Anisimova stepped up her serving game. Pliskova struggled to win return points in the final set, as the American reeled off four straight holds at 15 to earn a 5-4 lead. Serving to stay in the match, Pliskova won four straight points from 0-15 down to level the set.
With Anisimova serving at 5-5, Pliskova saw her first break points since the first set, earning four in total. Pliskova's best chance came on the second break point, where, after constructing a perfect point to earn a short ball to finish, Pliskova buried the putaway ball into the net. Anisimova went on to hold to 6-5.
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Pliskova and Anisimova are trading body blows in Ashe. pic.twitter.com/10YGSOMVl7
A quick hold from Pliskova forced the match into a deciding tiebreak. Anisimova earned the early mini-break at 2-0 and extended that lead to 4-1 with big-hitting off her backhand side. But the No.4 seed leveled the tiebreak at 5-5 after two errant forehands from Anisimova and earned her first match point after staying on the Anisimova forehand before exposing the space to her backhand corner.
Anisimova saved Match Point No.1 with a courageous foray into the net, sticking two volleys to level the tiebreak at 6-6, and earned her own match point after smart defensive play extracted a Pliskova forehand error.
This time, Pliskova wiped out Anisimova's chance with corner to corner hitting to earn a backhand error from the American to tie at 7-7. Pliskova continued to stay with the Anisimova forehand, which leaked another error to give the Czech a second chance to close out the match. Finally, after 2 hours and 21 minutes, Pliskova roared as Anisimova hit her 37th unforced error to end a sparkling competitive display.
Stat of the Match: The average rally length in the match was less than 3 shots (2.9), but the average rally length of the third-set tiebreaker was 5.2 shots. Pliskova finished the match with 39 winners to 22 unforced errors - she hit just six unforced errors in each of the second and third sets - while Anisimova fired 44 winners to 37 unforced errors.
Pliskova explains her tactical change: "The way the tiebreak went, I thought already by losing the second tiebreak it's going to be difficult. She was actually on fire. She made only winners in the tiebreak. So I thought, Okay, point by point of course.
"When it was 5-3, I was like, 'OK, if it's 5-4, we are back on serve.' But she had two serves actually. I know backhand is her better shot, right, and she didn't miss many. She put so much pressure from the backhand. She can really play cross, line. Even if I play fast to the backhand, she doesn't mind the speed.
"I thought, 'OK, maybe I try to bit play to the forehand, make her move.' I thought I played too many times in the same corner. Yeah, luckily it worked. But it was big luck."
Next up: Pliskova will face Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round. The Australian defeated No.30 seed Petra Martic, 7-6(6), 6-4. The winner will face either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Varvara Gracheva for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Bianca Andreescu moves to 9-0 at the US Open
No.6 seed Bianca Andreescu advanced to the third round of a major for the first time since her 2019 US Open triumph, defeating American Lauren Davis 6-4, 6-4 in the second round.
In breezy conditions under the lights on Louis Armstrong Stadium, Andreescu battled back from a break down four times in the match to edge No.98 Davis in two tightly contested sets. Andreescu managed to break the American's serve six times in the match and was aided by six well-timed aces on her own serve. The 2019 champion finished the match with 19 winners and 23 unforced errors, outmatching Davis' 11 winners to 18 unforced errors.
"This match wasn't easy at all," Andreescu said on court. "There were a lot of close games. There was just a point here and there that counted."
In her return to New York for the first time since 2019, Andreescu has extended her US Open winning streak to nine consecutive matches. Her two wins in the first week have required the 21-year-old to tap into her battling sensibilities to claw her way back into sets and to victory.
How the match was won: In her hotly contested opening match against Switzerland's in-form Viktorija Golubic, Andreescu came back from a break down in the first and third sets to win 7-5, 4-6, 7-5. Against Davis, she trailed by an early break at 2-0 before earning her first break of the match to level at 2-2. With the swirling wind wreaking havoc on the players' serves, Davis broke for a second time to 4-3 but failed to consolidate and Andreescu took the set by breaking Davis for a third time.
The second set proceeded in a similar fashion, with Davis taking advantage of Andreescu's second serve to break twice - Andreescu double-faulted on break point twice - but each time failing to consolidate. After holding to 5-4, Andreescu finally closed out the match with her sixth break of the match to seal the win after 1 hour and 36 minutes.
Key Quote: "I'm feeling very good out there. I think as the matches are progressing, I'm starting to feel my tennis more and more. I haven't had easy matches. Even today I know was straight sets, but the games were very tight.
"What I'm very happy about mostly is my serving because I've been working a lot on that. Also my movement on the court, I've been putting a lot of work in the gym and it's really paying off."
Next up: Andreescu will face lucky loser Greet Minnen of Belgium. The World No.104 became the fifth lucky loser to advance to the third round of the US Open in the Open Era after defeating Berlin champion Liudmila Samsonova. The winner of that match will play either Petra Kvitova or Maria Sakkari for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Shelby Rogers will face Ashleigh Barty for a fifth time this season
2020 quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers rallied from 1-4 down in the first set to defeat Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 6-2 in the second round. Rogers was broken just once for the match, winning 11 of the last 15 games of the match to defeat No.39 Cirstea, playing a contained match that yielded her 16 winners to 12 unforced errors.
The Charleston native's win means she will face a familiar foe in the third round: World No.1 Ashleigh Barty. The two have faced five times in their careers but four of those meetings have come in 2021, with Barty winning them all. But Rogers has pushed Barty to the brink twice, narrowly losing in a match tiebreak at the Yarra Valley Classic in February, and a tight three-set duel on green clay in Charleston.