Karolina Pliskova saved a match point to defeat China’s Zhang Shuai on Saturday and reach the US Open last 16, hanging on to her world number one spot in the process.
Top seed Pliskova, the runner-up in 2016, triumphed 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 but the lanky Czech was forced to save a match point in the 10th game of the second set and recover from a break down in the decider.
“I was match point down and I thought I haven’t tried many forehand winners down the line. That’s what I did. I may not have got another chance,” said the 25-year-old.
“She got tight at the end of the second set, so I just waited for my chances.”
Had she lost on Saturday, Pliskova would also have been guaranteed to lose her world number one ranking to either Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina, both of whom are still in the tournament.
Pliskova will next face either Jennifer Brady of the United States or Monica Niculescu of Romania.
In early men’s third round matches, Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem defeated France’s Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to make the last 16 for the third time in four years.
Thiem took his record to 6-0 over Mannarino to set-up a last 16 duel with either 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina or Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agiut.
Germany’s Phillip Kohlschreiber eliminated Australia’s John Millman 7-5, 6-2, 6-4.
Meanwhile, controversial Italian Fabio Fognini was kicked out of the US Open for making foul-mouthed comments to a female umpire in his first-round match.
The 30-year-old lashed out at Louise Engzell with a series of ugly mysogynistic insults during his loss to fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia.
Fognini and compatriot Simone Bolelli had reached the third round of the men’s doubles but tournament organizers have now axed him from the event.
Fognini, the world number 26, was also fined $24,000.
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