Maybe the pressure of being a top seed at a Grand Slam for the first time is troubling newly-engaged Karolina Pliskova, but the Czech’s performance at the US Open has been shaky, first in her opener against Magda Linette and then even more evidently in the second round against Nicole Gibbs.
Playing her first match against a world No.1 WTA player, the 127th-ranked Gibbs confidently won the first set, never facing a break point and breaking her opponent’s big serve twice. The tension continued in the second set, as determined and gutsy Gibbs leveled to 3-3 by holding serve without losing a point and it seemed that Pliskova’s time was running out, but then the last year runner-up’s experience kicked in, she won three games in a row to stay alive and broke Gibbs’ serve at love in the seventh game of the third set to end the hopes of the American qualifier, who has now lost all seven of her career meetings with Top 10 players. Result: 2-6 6-3 6-4.
To retain the No.1 ranking, the Fila-clad Pliskova needs to reach at least the finals, but if Garbine Muguruza advances to the semifinals, then Pliskova would have to win the title. Moreover, if Muguruza reaches the final, then Pliskova’s chances of keeping the top spot are ruined.