Ana Ivanovic, who had been having her best season since winning the French Open in 2008, lost to Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the U.S. Open on Thursday.
Ivanovic, seeded eighth, had won 47 matches coming into Flushing Meadows, the most of any woman on the tour this year. But she never found her rhythm against Pliskova, a 6-foot-1, big-hitting Czech ranked No. 42. Ivanovic struggled to consistently make her first serves and sprayed 29 unforced errors, including seven double-faults.
“It was just really bad day,” said Ivanovic, who was once ranked No. 1 and whose three titles this season equal the career high she set in 2008.
But she hasn’t matched that success in Grand Slam tournaments. She made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open but fell in early rounds at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
“This is exactly what I think I have to reassess,” she said. “I had great lead-ups to every Grand Slam. I played a lot of matches and won lot of matches. ... At the Grand Slams I just haven’t performed that well. ”
Ivanovic is the highest seed to fall behind No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, who lost to Peng Shuai in the second round Wednesday. None of the top 10 men seeds has lost.
After celebrating the biggest victory of her career, the 22-year-old Pliskova said she didn’t really have a strategy for attacking Ivanovic.
“I just played my game and was focusing on me,” she said.
No. 16-seeded Victoria Azarenka, a finalist at the U.S. Open the past two years, dropped the first three games before coming back to beat 44th-ranked American Christina McHale 6-3, 6-2 in another second-round match.
Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion who once held the No. 1 ranking, has been hampered by injuries, including one to her left foot that kept her out for much of the season and a knee problem that led her to pull out of the tuneup event in Cincinnati.
“I don’t want to talk about frustration. ... I just want to talk about positives,” Azarenka said. “I love tennis so much and I couldn’t wait to get back on the court.”
On the men’s side, American Sam Querrey downed 28th-seeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets and two seeds, No. 10 Kei Nishikori and No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber, advanced to the third round when their opponents retired because of injury. Top-seeded Nojak Djokovic, No. 5 Milos Raonic, No. 8 Andy Murray and No. 9 Jo-Willfried Tsonga were all in action later.
Other anticipated matches Thursday included the return of 15-year-old American CiCi Bellis, two days after becoming the youngest player to win a match in the tournament since 1996. Bellis, ranked 1,208th and playing in her first tour-level event, faces 48th-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
Serena Williams took a 15-match Flushing Meadows winning streak into the second round against another American, 81st-ranked Vania King.
Williams has won five U.S. Open titles, including in 2012 and 2013. She is trying to become the first woman to win the tournament three consecutive years since Chris Evert had a four-year run from 1975-78.