Ostapenko stuns Pliskova as Djokovic targets 70th win at Roland Garros
Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova returns the ball to Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko during their women's singles second round tennis match on Day 5 of The Roland Garros 2020 French Open Tennis Tournament in Paris. AFP
Former champion Jelena Ostapenko swept second seed Karolina Pliskova out of Roland Garros on Thursday as Novak Djokovic set his sights on a 70th career win in the French capital.
In a women's tournament reeling from the injury-enforced withdrawal of Serena Williams, and the absence of world number one and defending champion Ashleigh Barty as well as US Open winner Naomi Osaka, Latvia's Ostapenko pressed her case for a second Paris title after her shock 2017 breakthrough.
The world number 43 fired 27 winners to just nine for Pliskova in a 6-4, 6-2 victory which gave her a third round match against either Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner and runner-up in Paris in 2018, or Spain's Paula Badosa.
Pliskova, 28, made the semi-finals in 2017 but has now failed to get beyond the third round in her eight other appearances at the French Open.
"I tried to be aggressive but not miss too much as she's such a great player," said 23-year-old Ostapenko who had lost in the first round in her last two visits to the French Open. "I had to bring the best tennis that I could."
The defeat completed a miserable year at the Slams for Czech star Pliskova who only made the third round at the Australian Open and second at the US Open. However, she arrived in Paris having retired from the Italian Open final against Simona Halep with a thigh injury.
Ostapenko was joined in the last 32 by two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, whose best Roland Garros run was the semi-finals in 2012. The seventh seed defeated Italy's 94th-ranked Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-3 to register her 25th French Open win.
Meanwhile, Djokovic, who was likened to a snake by his vanquished first round opponent, tackles spear-fishing fan Ricardas Berankis for a place in the last 32. "It's like a snake killing its prey. I felt suffocated," said Sweden's Mikael Ymer who took just six games off Djokovic on Tuesday.
Snake v spear-fisher
Victory for the world number one will give him a 70th career win at the tournament where he was champion in 2016. Djokovic, chasing an 18th major, has a 32-1 record for the year. His only defeat was his disqualification from the US Open.
Now it's the turn of Lithuania's Berankis, ranked 66, to try and reel in the Serb who is bidding to become the first man in half a century to win all four Grand Slam tournaments twice. The 30-year-old Berankis lists spear-fishing as one of his hobbies on the lakes of Lithuania.
He may have more time for that hobby after Thursday against Djokovic who is playing in the second round for the 16th time. Berankis lost his most recent clash with the Serb in New York at the uprooted Cincinnati event this year and managed only five games against Djokovic when they met at the 2013 US Open.
Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who made the last 16 in Paris last year but had to come back from two sets down in the first round against Jaume Munar, faces wily Uruguayan veteran Pablo Cuevas. The 34-year-old world number 60 has made the third round on four occasions and all six of his career titles have come on clay.
However, Tsitsipas has won all three of their meetings, two of them on clay including on his way to the runners-up spot in Hamburg last week. Andrey Rublev, the mop-topped Russian who defeated Tsitsipas in the Hamburg final and now has three titles in 2020, also needed to come back from two sets down in his opener against Sam Querrey of the United States.
The 22-year-old will Thursday face Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the 21-year-old world number 70, who enjoyed a run to the last 16 at the US Open. In the women's tournament, Australian Open champion and fourth seed Sofia Kenin meets Ana Bogdan, one of five Romanians to make the second round.
Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion in Paris and 2017 Wimbledon winner, faces Kristyna Pliskova, the world 69.