Top seed Karolina Pliskova crashes out of US Open

Naomi Osaka wins with ease as ‘prisoner’ Mladenovic dumped out by comeback

Top seed Karolina Pliskova became the biggest casualty of this year's US Open so far as she was dumped out at the second-round stage by Caroline Garcia of France.

Pliskova's 6-1 7-6 (2) defeat further obliterated a women's field which was shorn of six of the world's top 10 before it started — and left American Sofia Kenin as the highest seed standing.

The 2016 finalist made a dismal start as she fell a double break behind to 26-year-old Garcia, a player who has struggled to live up to initial expectations and sunk from a career high world ranking of four to her current 50.

Pliskova produced a single winner in the opening set and fell a break down in the second before belatedly rallying, breaking back and fashioning two set points on the Garcia serve at 5-4.


But just when Garcia showed signs of the kind of wobble that has hampered her career, she hauled herself back to force a tie-break, and swept through it in style much to her evident delight.

Garcia said: “It was very close to being a third set and if so I was ready. When I got broken in the second set I didn’t do anything really bad, and I had to stay focused and aggressive.”

There were no such problems for fourth seed and former champion Naomi Osaka, who swept aside Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-1 6-2 to reach the third round. Former Wimbledon champions Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova also kept their hopes on track after gritty second-round wins.

Kerber, the 17th seed, is playing in her 50th grand slam at the venue where she made her breakthrough, reaching the semi-final in 2011.

The 2016 Flushing Meadows winner came through a tight all-German clash against Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4 7-6 (6).

Kerber, 32, who won Wimbledon two years ago, said: “It’s always special to return to a place where you won. It’s a really special place for me, where it all started in 2011, and I’m still here competing. This is what I love.”

Kvitova, the two-time champion at SW19, has never made it further than the quarter-finals in New York. The 30-year-old Czech, seeded six at this year’s championship, was slow to get moving but eventually beat Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (3) 6-2.

She said: “It was very difficult especially with my nerves, I felt very tight. But it’s a grand slam, at the beginning of the tournament it’s always like this.”

Varvara Gracheva produced one of the most stunning comebacks in grand slam history when she came back from 6-1 5-1 down to beat 30th seed Kristina Mladenovic.

The 20-year-old from Russia, playing at her first major championship, saved four match points before taking the second set on a tie-break.

France’s Mladenovic promptly crumbled as Gracheva completed a remarkable 1-6 7-6 (2) 6-0 victory.

Afterwards Mladenovic blasted that she felt like a "prisoner" during the tournament, in which she was one of the players placed within a so-called 'bubble within a bubble', having had contact with compatriot Benoit Paire who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

She said: “I was playing well but I was feeling on edge. What they are forcing us to go through is abominable. I want my freedom back. I feel like we are prisoners here.”