Karolina Pliskova survives scare to make fourth round at US Open
China’s Zhang Shuai had match point in the second set before losing 2-1
Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic celebrates defeating China’s Shuai Zhang during their US Open match at the Flushing Meadows. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Pliskova, who reached the final last year, had been pushed to three sets in her previous round by qualifier Nicole Gibbs and admitted afterwards she was feeling the pressure.
She was in deep trouble at a set and 5-4 down, with Zhang serving for the match, but she fought off a match point with a fine forehand and recovered to win 3-6 7-5 6-4.
Pliskova took over the number one ranking after Wimbledon despite falling in the second round and has not hit top form since.
Zhang more than played her part in this contest, using the angles well to drag Pliskova all over the court and matching her powerful opponent from the baseline.
She looked set to claim the scalp when she broke in the ninth game of the second set and then created a match point but Pliskova trusted in her weapons and powered a forehand down the line.
The top seed then levelled at 5-5 and broke the Zhang serve again to take the set.
Still it was not straightforward, with 27th seed Zhang going up an early break in the decider, but Pliskova gradually made her extra clout count and with her 33rd winner came the relief of a place in the last 16.