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Monday, February 6, 2023

Pliskova cruised through Zhang to go to the round of eight at the Australian Open

Karolina Pliskova, a former number one in the world, cruised to a 6-0, 6-4 victory against Zhang Shuai to advance to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. With this victory, Pliskova maintained her chances of winning her first Grand Slam championship.

At Melbourne Park, the 30th seed from the Czech Republic kept her winning streak going with a sizzling serving performance. She destroyed the 23rd seed from China on the show court of the Kia Arena by banging down 12 aces throughout the match.

Pliskova, who finished the opening set in a lightning-fast 21 minutes, reflected on her performance by saying, “I think I began very well today, really aggressive.”

“However, I was giving it my best, particularly in the opening set. She began to play a little bit better as the match progressed, even though she slowed down a little bit in the second set. Perhaps a little more intelligent.

“But all I can say is that I’m relieved that I made it to the second set because, in my opinion, it could go any way.”

Pliskova, who had a difficult 2022 and was sidelined at the Australian Open the previous year due to a wrist injury, was dominant on her route to reaching the quarterfinals of her 11th Grand Slam tournament.

The 30-year-old player has won 16 championships on the WTA Tour and advanced to the semifinals of the 2019 tournament at Melbourne Park.

Pliskova has not yet been defeated in a set, and if she continues in this form, she has a chance to win the whole tournament. This is particularly true considering that the top two seeds, Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur, have already been eliminated.

Magda Linette, ranked number 45 in the world, will be Pliskova’s opponent in the match for a spot in the semifinals.

In the previous year, Pliskova’s ranking fell from fourth in the world to outside the top 30 for the first time since 2013.

As her fortunes on the court reached rock bottom, she was knocked out of the French Open in the second round by a qualifier who was ranked 277th in the world.

“The process of getting back into shape was challenging, but I’m delighted to say that I’m now competing at the level I want to be at.

It is always exciting to be in the second week of a Grand Slam competition, and I am hoping that I will be able to continue playing for a little longer.

Her elimination in the second round at Wimbledon was the last straw, and she decided to part ways with her coach Sascha Bajin, a German who had previously helped Naomi Osaka win back-to-back Grand Slam championships at the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open.

Since she rehired Bajin in December, who was spotted grinning courtside on Monday, she has seen a dramatic turnaround in her performance as a direct consequence of this change.

She said that the two of them had accomplished a lot of fantastic things together.

“So this is the reason why it set him back. I do not doubt that we will compete in many more tournaments and achieve many more victories in the future. Therefore, I have high hopes that we will eventually be able to win some trophies together.”

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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