Karolina Pliskova has shocked fans after coughing up a 5-0 lead in the second set to crash out of the Australian Open in an extraordinary match on Saturday.
The former World No.1 looked completely out of sorts against compatriot Karolína Muchová, struggling to hold serve and making way too many unforced errors.
After dropping the first set, Pliskova received a code violation when she angrily smashed her racquet.
The Czech player then left the court at the change of sets, only to receive another code violation when she returned.
An official had caught Pliskova smashing another racquet while off court, telling the chair umpire when she got back.
That meant Pliskova received a point penalty and started the second set at 0-15 despite not playing a point yet.
“I can do what I want off court!” Pliskova told the chair umpire.
The umpire then replied: “Yes, but you’re still not allowed to do it.”
Pliskova shot back: “Why not? Off-court I can do what I want!”
Unfortunately for Pliskova it only got worse in the second set.
The former Australian Open semi-finalist looked to have righted the ship as she waltzed out to a 5-0 lead and looked destined to send the match to a third.
But Muchova reeled off the next seven games in a row to storm into the fourth round.
"I'm a little sad because we are very good friends," Muchova, the world No.27 said.
"But it's a game and I'm definitely happy that I made it through in two sets.
"We were both a little nervous, but I'm happy I'm through."
Fans couldn't believe what they'd witnessed from Pliskova.
Shocking collapse from Pliskova. Credit to Munchova for not giving up on the set
— Bray Ash (@brayash24) February 13, 2021
What in the world was that from Pliskova? Horrendous from 5-0 up second set.
— Mark Young (@markyoung1988) February 13, 2021
Just unreal. Pliskova coughs up a 5-0 second set lead to lose 5-7 5-7 to Muchova.
Cannot believe what I just watched.
— Jonathan Newman (@Tennis_Jon) February 13, 2021
What the heck happened with Pliskova? I checked a score and saw 5-0 in 2nd set, and now 5-6.
— Keith Fridrich 🎾🏀🏆 (@KeithFridrich) February 13, 2021
Pliskova.... I honestly don't know what to say.#AusOpen
— Biola Solace-Chukwu (@Beeorlicious) February 13, 2021
Pliskova sadly showing why she hasn’t (and will likely never) win a major. Hard to believe someone can play so badly from 5-0 up.
— rbj (@rodjames222) February 13, 2021
Truly awful performance from Pliskova
— Lisa Senior (@furryyelloballs) February 13, 2021
Svitolina cruises into fourth round
Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina has continued her quiet progression through the Australian Open draw to advance to the fourth round without dropping a set.
The Ukrainian fifth seed had too many guns for Yulia Putintseva, winning 6-4 6-0 in one hour, 23 minutes on Saturday.
With Victoria in a five-day lockdown following another COVID-19 outbreak, the Melbourne Park stands were eerily empty as Svitolina fell 2-0 behind early.
But from trailing 4-3 in the opening set, she reeled off nine consecutive games to win easily.
Putintseva was among the 72 players forced into hard quarantine before the Open last month.
The 26-year-old was bizarrely accused of feeding rodents in her hotel after repeatedly taking to social media to complain of a mice plague in her hotel.
It's been quite the experience for her in Australia over the past month, but she'll at least depart with a cheque for $215,000 for coming to the season's first grand slam.
"I know Yulia for a very long time. We used to play when we were kids - under 10s, under 12s - so I know her from a very young age," Svitolina said.
"So I always expect a big battle against her. She's a big fighter so I had to really play my best and, in the end, it was a good match for me.
"I'm happy with the way I could come back in the first set."
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