Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova went the same way as seven-time champion Serena Williams and defending champion Naomi Osaka, exiting in a chaotic third round at the Australian Open.
Pliskova, a semifinalist here last year, lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) Saturday to 30th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in match lasting almost 2 1/2 hours. It was an ominous start, with Pliskova needing almost 18 minutes and fending off six break-point chances before holding in her first service game.
Williams and Osaka lost at the same stage on Day 5, when Caroline Wozniacki was also beaten in a loss that sent the 2018 Australian Open winner into retirement.
Three-time major winner Angelique Kerber bucked the trend by beating Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena.
The 2016 Australian Open winner will play Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the quarterfinals.
“It was a tough battle,” the 17th-seeded Kerber said. “It’s great to be in the second week in Melbourne again. It’s still a long way.”
Pavlyuchenkova had taken only one set off Pliskova in six previous matches, but changed her approach this time and attacked one of the best serves in women’s tennis.
“I even had goosebumps after some points,” the 28-year-old Russian said. “And to beat Karolina for the first time, it’s amazing.”
Pavlyuchenkova won the junior title at Melbourne Park more than a decade ago and said she was using that as motivation this time.
“It brings me like “you can do it,'” confidence, she said, “Keep going.”
Kontaveit upsets No. 6 Bencic
Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic lost 6-0, 6-1 to Anett Kontaveit to join other a queue of highly-ranked women exiting from Melbourne Park before the fourth round.
Bencic had beaten former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.
Bencic joins No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, No. 3 and defending champion Naomi Osaka and No. 8 Serena Williams among those who’ve lost in the third round.
Kerber battles past Giorgi
Three-time major champion Angelique Kerber advanced to the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3 win over Camila Giorgi to continue her career winning streak over the Italian player.
Kerber has beaten Giorgi all five times they’ve met, including three previous times Down Under at warm-up tournaments ahead of the Australian Open.
Kerber won the 2016 Australian Open for her first major, then followed that up with the U.S. Open later that year and Wimbledon in 2018.
Giorgi has never advanced past the third round of any major except Wimbledon.