French Open: Karolina Pliskova loses to Petra Martic in third round

Karolina Pliskova
Karolina Pliskova lost in the semi-finals of the French Open to defending champion Simona Halep in 2017
2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic lost in straight sets to world number 31 Petra Martic in the third round of the French Open.

Pliskova, a semi-finalist in 2017, had been in good form, beating British number one Johanna Konta to win the Italian Open in Rome this month.

Her 6-3 6-3 loss made her the fourth of the women's top 10 seeds to exit.

And she was soon followed by Ukrainian ninth seed Elina Svitolina, beaten 6-3 6-3 by 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza.

Pliskova's Croatian conqueror Martic, who last reached the fourth round in 2012, will face two-time quarter-finalist Kaia Kanepi from Estonia in the next round.

Australian Open semi-finalist Pliskova was broken twice in the first set and three times in the second after she made 28 unforced errors and won only 33% of points on her second serve.

The world number two, who has now exited the French Open in the third round two years running, is yet to win a Grand Slam title but reached the US Open final in 2016.

"I think the court is pretty slow, so you just have to play some extra shots," said the former world number one. "The centre court, I played twice, and twice it was slow."

Muguruza turns on the style

Garbine Muguruza
Muguruza has won all six of her third-round matches at Roland Garros

Spain's Muguruza, 25, has plenty of pedigree having backed up her Roland Garros victory with the Wimbledon title a year later, but has slid down the rankings in recent months as she struggled to make her explosive game click on a consistent basis.

From being a dark horse at the start of the tournament, she is sliding into view as a potential winner after seeing off 2018 WTA Tour Finals runner-up Svitolina in an impressive victory.

Pliskova's exit has also helped open up the bottom half of the women's draw, although American seventh seed Sloane Stephens should provide another stern test for Muguruza in the next round.

Against Svitolina, the powerful Muguruza showed signs of the form which turned her into the world number one.

Both players struggled on serve in a strange opening set which began with seven successive breaks, Muguruza eventually holding for a 5-3 lead before breaking again to clinch the opener.

Svitolina, 24, had not played since her opening win over Venus Williams on Sunday, having seen Ukrainian childhood friend Kateryna Kozlova pull out of their second-round match on Wednesday through illness.

Perhaps it partly explained a lack of rhythm in her first-set service games, landing only 36% of first serves and winning only seven service points.

Svitolina managed to steady herself in the second and broke for a 3-2 lead, only for Muguruza to respond by winning the next four games to reach the last 16 for the sixth consecutive year in Paris.

Women's seeded players to have dropped out - graphic

Sevastova wins 43-game thriller

Latvian 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova won a thrilling 43-game third-round match with Belgian 20th seed Elise Mertens on Suzanne Lenglen.

US Open semi-finalist Sevastova won 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 11-9 in almost three hours 30 minutes after saving five match points.

Mertens, who struggled to keep her footing throughout, slipped at 6-6 in the deciding set to bring up two break points but managed to hold.

Sevastova eventually broke in the 19th game of the third set to set up a fourth-round tie with Czech world number 38 Marketa Vondrousova.

The match was three short of the women's French Open record for the longest by number of games, using tie-break scoring, set by American Linda Harvey-Wild and Peruvian Laura Gildemeister in 1991.

Meanwhile, American seventh seed Stephens made it through to the fourth round with a 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory over Slovenia's world number 71 Polona Hercog.

Stephens had four match points saved in the second set before being broken but the 2017 US Open champion went on to win in just over two and a half hours and will face Spanish 19th seed Muguruza in the next round.

Elise Mertens slipping
Elise Mertens struggled to keep her footing and slipped several times during the third set

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