Australian Open: Home favourite Ashleigh Barty through to fourth round as Karolina Pliskova snaps

Karolina Pliskova smashed two racquets during her third-round loss in straight sets to Karolina Muchova 7-5 7-5 at the Australian Open.

The sixth seed was given a code violation when she destroyed her racquet soon after losing a long first set.

Pliskova walked into the players’ tunnel and destroyed another racquet before being reported – and she was frustrated when docked a point for a second violation.

The Czech said: “It’s off court, I’m allowed to do what I want.”

She appeared to improve in the second set, racing into a 5-0 lead before dropping seven straight games to lose.

Pliskova added: “Of course, I played quite amazing to 5-0, but then it’s quite tough to hold this level for a longer time. I don’t want to be too sarcastic and too negative because I just lost.”

World No.1 and home favourite Ashleigh Barty advanced to the fourth round as she defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-4. 

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With Victoria in a snap-five day lockdown, Barty admitted the lack of fans changed the sound of the court.

She said: “It’s very strange, I’ve never experienced it before in my life.  I love the crowd but I loved the sound of the ball.”

The Australian lost the opening two games of the first set before storming back to win six in a row.  Barty started slowly in the second set as well, but won the final four games to defeat the Russian in straight sets and will play Shelby Rogers in the fourth round.

The American defeated Estonian 21st seed Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-3.

READ MORE: No crowds at Australian Open amid five-day snap lockdown

Elsewhere, Elina Svitolina defeated Yulia Putinseva in straight sets 6-4 6-0. The fifth seed echoed Barty’s sentiment as she thought the lack of fans in attendance dampened the occasion.

Svitolina said: “It was for sure a bit disturbing, in some ways sad. It feels like a practice match. I tried to convince myself that it’s a grand slam and that we are playing an important match.” 

The Ukranian will face Jessica Pegula on Monday after the American, who defeated two-time champion Victoria Azarenka earlier in the tournament, saw off Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-1. 

Donna Vekic also staged an impressive comeback to top Kaia Kanepi 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4. 

Kanepi defeated 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the last round, and she took the first set and was 3-0 up in the second before the Croatian stormed back. 

The 28th seed Vekic will face Jennifer Brady, who topped Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan 6-1 6-3.

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