Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova struggled to make it to the second week of Grand Slams until she reached the final at Flushing Meadows last year losing to Angelique Kerber in a three-set thriller. Pliskova overcame the last Aussie standing, 22nd seed Daria Gavrilova, who was unable to get passed the fourth round for the second year running, 6-3, 6-3.
The Czech number one survived an almighty scare against Jelena Ostapenko in the previous round when she was 2-5 down in the final set, but she hung in and won the final set 10-8. Gavrilova entertained the home crowd in three, three-set victories in the first three rounds but she was unable to find a way to win against Pliskova.
Pliskova takes the opening set
Gavrilova opened the match falling 0-30 down by committing two unforced errors. The 22nd seed would win the next two points with a forehand unforced error from Pliskova and a forehand winner from the Aussie leveled the game at 30-30. Both players would commit errors in this game but in a lengthy seven-minute game, Pliskova got the first break of serve on her third break point chance with a backhand unforced error from the 22-year-old.
The fifth seed consolidated the break serving up two aces in this game, and a forehand volley winner at the net to lead 2-0. Once again in the third game in this match, Gavrilova build a 30-0 lead but two forced errors from the Aussie leveled the game at 30-30. Both players continued to commit errors, and the Aussie number two was able to hold serve from a tame backhand unforced error from Pliskova.
For the second consecutive service game, Pliskova held to 15 with two aces in this game, extending her lead to 3-1. Gavrilova was struggling on her serve committing three consecutive unforced errors to give Pliskova the double break and lead 4-1.
The Czech number one had problems on her serve in this opening set, starting the sixth game with an ace, Gavrilova would respond with a backhand winner. More unforced errors continued to spring the Aussie's racquet, and Pliskova would play a sublime backhand winner, forcing an error from the 22nd seed, extending her lead to 5-1.
Gavrilova had the tough task of serving to stay in the opening set at a double break down, starting the game positively with an ace. However, Pliskova found a volley winner to level the game at 30-30, Gavrilova would win the next two consecutive points with a forehand winner and backhand unforced error from Pliskova to hold serve in the match for the first time.
The fifth-seeded Czech had the opportunity to serve out the opening set but last year's US Open finalist was troubled on serve for the first time in the match, quickly going 15-40 down, a chance for Gavrilova to retrieve one of the breaks back. Pliskova saved one with a timely ace but a forehand unforced error handed Gavrilova one of the breaks back but still lead 5-3.
The 22nd seed was serving to stay in the opening set for the second time but Gavrilova quickly found herself at 0-30 down, committing a forehand unforced error followed by a forehand winner by the big-serving Czech. More errors crept into both players game with Pliskova getting two set points at 15-40. Gavrilova saved the first one with a backhand unforced error but Pliskova would claim the opening set coming out on top in a six-shot rally, drawing the error from Gavrilova to lead 6-3 in 34 minutes.
Pliskova advances to second Grand Slam quarterfinal
One of the favourites for the title, Pliskova started the second set slowly on her serve, going 0-30 down with a backhand unforced error, followed by an untimely double fault. The Czech would win the next two points with a backhand volley winner and an ace. However, another double fault handed Gavrilova a break point and a forehand unforced error handed Gavrilova the lead in the second set a 1-0.
It was vital for Gavrilova to consolidate the break, in order to fully shift the momentum. However, she found herself down at 0-30 but she would win the next point with a forehand winner, however, another forehand unforced error, gave Pliskova two break back points. The 22nd seed would save them both with forehand winners, however, a double fault handing the Czech a third chance to break but she was unable to do by committing another unforced error. However, at the fourth time of asking the fifth seed would get the break back by two untimely unforced errors from Gavrilova, leveling the second set at 1-1.
Pliskova was able to take the lead in the second set for the first time with more unforced errors spewing from Gavrilova's racquet allowing the fifth seed to seal the game with an ace, leading 2-1. Pliskova was looking for the break in the fourth game, quickly building a 15-40 lead with some good play, a smash winner ,and a backhand winner. However, a backhand unforced error and an ace from Gavrilova allowed the Aussie to level the game at 40-40. The Aussie couldn't be her worst enemy committing another unforced error and a double fault handed Pliskova her third consecutive game leading 3-1.
The fifth seed consolidated the break serving another ace and closed out the game with a forehand winner, winning her fourth consecutive game to lead 4-1. Gavrilova built up a 30-0 lead but the Czech would win the next three points creating another break point chance to get the double break lead advantage. However, Pliskova was unable to convert it and committed two unforced errors allowed the Aussie off the hook at 4-2.
Pliskova continued to serve well in the second set by dishing out two more aces and winning the game with some applied pressure drawing the backhand error from Gavrilova. The Aussie was serving to stay in the match starting it brightly with an unforced error from the Czech and serving an ace to lead 30-0. However, Pliskova would get the game to 30-15 with a forehand winner but Gavrilova had an easy service game closing the game out with a forehand winner of her home to make the Czech serve out for the match.
The 22nd seed continued to be erratic creating more errors, and Pliskova would have two match points at 40-15. However, Gavrilova served them by virtue of two unforced errors from the fifth seed. Moreover, Pliskova stayed calm and composed by getting a smash winner at the net and serving an ace down the T to win the match, 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 12 minutes.
Pliskova served an impressive 12 aces and committed four double faults in this contest. She had good success on her first serve by getting it in play 61 percent of the time and winning 81 percent of the points on it. Gavrilova's numbers were significantly lower getting 49 percent of her first serves in but only winning 59 percent of the points on it. Despite producing 27 winners, Pliskova committed more unforced errors at 30. In contrast, Gavrilova only produced 14 winners and committed 23 unforced errors.
A golden opportunity in the quarterfinals
The fifth seed was the final woman to secure her place in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Pliskova will be competing in her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal, and first in Melbourne. She will play Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia for a place in the semifinals, and the 34-year-old veteran will be competing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since Wimbledon in 1999 when she went on to reach the semifinals.
Pliskova and Lucic-Baroni have met on five occasions, with the Czech leading 3-2 in their encounters. The winner of that quarterfinal will play either the six-time champion Serena Williams or last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta for a place in Saturday's final.