In a battle between former world number ones, No. 22 Karolina Pliskova fought a 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 win over No. 26 Victoria Azarenka to earn another quarter-final at Flushing Wiesen.
Pliskova, Angelique Kerber’s US Open runner-up in 2016, took just over 3 hours to surpass three-time US Open finalist Azarenka (2012, 2013 and 2020) in her head-to-head victory with 5-4 to come out on top. It was the first meeting between the two tour veterans since 2019.
In the quarterfinals, Pliskova meets the winner of the Arthur Ashe Night match between No. 6 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No. 19 seed Danielle Collins.
Here’s how Pliskova fought her way through the match and how she excels as the draw progresses:
Trust the terms
Azarenka has a great record at the US Open, but Pliskova is also emerging as a top performer in New York. Pliskova had never progressed past the third round at a Grand Slam coming into the 2016 edition, but she raced to that final, unleashing a legacy of success at the US Open.
From 2016 to date, Pliskova has reached the quarterfinals of the US Open or better five times, with a 26-6 win-loss record at Flushing Meadows in that span. The speed and atmosphere of the court suits the big hitter perfectly and she can use her comfort in this place to her best advantage.
Steady as she goes
The mighty Pliskova fought her way through her hard-fought match with Azarenka by keeping her number of unforced errors relatively low. As of Monday night, Pliskova had 53 winners but only 36 unforced errors, with a difference between the two of 17. Azarenka’s difference was still positive, but she had just nine winners more than unforced errors.
Pliskova remained stable and didn’t make many mistakes considering how fiery her game has remained. That paid off in the first set, where she came back from a breakdown and salvaged two set points. If she continues to be safe when she needs to be before she chooses her moments to strike, watch out.
But of course the serve
Pliskova wore the nickname “Ace Queen” for so many years for a reason. Even with improved defense and more room to play, Pliskova will still get the most from her first serve clicking.
After narrowly missing in the tiebreak of the second set, Pliskova regrouped behind her first delivery for the deciding set. In the final set, the Czech won 23 of her 27 first-serve points (85 percent) and never came close to a break point.
After two grueling sets, the first serve was a major factor that helped Pliskova sail through the third. This weapon will continue to be a determining factor as she tries to advance further.
There’s more to come…