Karolina Pliskova def Shuai Zhang 36 75 64
She had to save match point to do it, but after 2-hours and 19-minutes, last year’s US Open Finalist has made it back into Flushing’s 4th-Round. Karolina Pliskova hasn’t necessarily been on-point since arriving in Queens. The World #1 was nonexistent in the 1st-set with Nicole Gibbs on Thursday, and struggled with her forearm during the win today.
Shaui Zhang claimed the first set, despite Pliskova’s opening service break. Zhang won the next four games, then held the rest of the way. Zhang was steady, and by all appearances, headed for her second career defeat of a World #1 (took-out Dinara Safina in the 2nd-Round of the 2009 China Open). After falling behind 0-3 in the second, Zhang leveled the set after the changeover, then broke again to go up 5-4 and serve for the match. At deuce, Pliskova dumped a backhand into the net, handing Zhang match-point. It would be Zhang’s only opportunity to win it; an opportunity erased by a blistering forehand winner. Two points later, we headed for the third.
Before the decider, Pliskova took a medical timeout for some forearm treatment, then Zhang opened with a break. This was Zhang’s fifth career stab at Pliskova. She was determined to finally earn a win. Karolina was equally determined not to lose. The World #1 leveled the set after the changeover and earned the win with a break.
Playing through the pain
Zhang played well, but it looked like Pliskova’s biggest opponent Saturday was…pain. Which isn’t surprising. She’s had a heavy workload since winning her 9th career title in Eastbourne. Karolina fell early at Wimbledon, but over the Summer, reached the Quarters in Toronto and the Semifinals in Cincinnati. That’s a lot of time on court leading up to the season’s final Major.
Next-up: 22-year-old American Jennifer Brady from Harrisburg, PA – who played through qualifying to reach the Australian Open Round of 16 back in January.