Gasanova stuns Pliskova in Abu Dhabi

·2-min read

In her first-ever match against a Top 100 player, Russian qualifier Anastasia Gasanova has stunned former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova in straight sets to extend her breakthrough week on the WTA into the round of 16 at the Abu Dhabi Open.

The 21-year-old who is ranked 292 in the world, and in her first tour main draw, saw off the third-seeded Pliskova in 72 minutes, winning 6-2 6-4 on Saturday.

"It's like it was not me on the court. I was so sure of myself," Gasanova said of her breakthrough win.

"I'm really surprised, but when I woke up today, I thought, 'Why not? Why can't I win this match?'"

"Actually, I thought I would lose in qualies or something like that, but I just kept pushing myself, like, I need to win and I want to win."

For the world No.6, this marked Pliskova's first loss to a player ranked outside the Top 50 since she fell to then-world No.73 Jelena Ostapenko at Beijing in 2019.

The Czech had won a title in the first week of the season in three of the last four seasons (Brisbane in 2017, 2019, 2020) but she will head out of the UAE this week with a 1-1 start to 2021.

Gasanova will try to keep her run going on Sunday when she faces Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Second seed Elina Svitolina reached the third round with a 6-4 6-1 win over veteran Vera Zvonareva and will play 17th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova after the Russian scored a 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 win over Britain's Heather Watson.

Sixth seed Elena Rybakina converted her fifth match point to seal a 6-4 6-4 win over Wang Xiyu of China. The Kazakh next plays Daria Kasatkina, who advanced to the third round by walkover after her opponent Karolina Muchova withdrew.