A frustrated Karolina Pliskova clashed with the chair umpire and blew a 5-0 lead in the second set to go down 5-7, 5-7 to Czech compatriot Karolina Muchova in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday.
The sixth seed, who later said she never got into her comfort zone, received a code violation for racquet abuse during the opening set.
Pliskova then left the court at the change of sets. An official had caught Pliskova smashing another racquet while off court, telling the chair umpire when she got back.
When given another code violation, which resulted in a point penalty, the statuesque Czech lost her cool.
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“I can do what I want off court!” Pliskova told the chair umpire.
The umpire replied: “Yes, but you’re still not allowed to do it.”
Pliskova shot back: “Why not? Off-court I can do what I want!”
The exchange though seemed to have fired up the 28-year-old. She won five games in a row and looked like she would stage a comeback.
“There was long game for 5-1 and 6-0. I thought she just played little bit better at this moment,” Pliskova said after the match. “Of course, I played quite amazing to 5-0, but then it’s quite tough to hold this level.”
Muchova won the next seven games on the trot to clinch a Round of 16 berth.
“I’m a little sad because we are very good friends,” Muchova, the world No.27 said. “But it’s a game and I’m definitely happy that I made it through in two sets.
“We were both a little nervous, but I’m happy I’m through.” She will take on 18th seed Elise Mertens in the next round.
Fognini sets up Nadal clash
Italian 16th seed Fabio Fognini put in a clinical performance to stroll past Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday, ending the host nation’s challenge in the men’s singles draw.
Fognini, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his ankles last year, crunched one winner after another from his double-handed backhand and aggregated 25 in all compared with 13 for his opponent.
Next up for the Italian will be 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal, who eased past Britain’s Cameron Norrie with a 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 victory in Saturday’s other late match.