Vera Zvonareva of Russia delivered a stunning upset on Monday, October 17, when she dispatched the Czech Karolina Pliskova in straight sets in the second round of WTA Kremlin Cup.
Zvonareva, who started the tournament as a qualifier, won her opening round against her compatriot Irina Khromacheva 6-3, 6-3, to set up a second-round bout with the Czech No. 1. Pliskova, who enjoyed a bye into the tournament, was undoubtedly the favourite one to win the tournament.
However, the former World No. 2 had some aces up her sleeve as she looked particularly determined in front of her home crowd. Zvonareva, who has fallen to the 161st place, broke Pliskova’s serve on five different occasions. It didn’t take more than 73 minutes for the Russian to sail to a comfortable and shocking victory, winning 6-1, 6-2.
It is fair to say that Pliskova had a disastrous game as well, considering that she made a remarkable 26 unforced errors over the course of the match.
That win also marked the first time that Zvonareva has defeated a top 10 player since 2011. The last time she achieved this feat was against Caroline Wozniacki in the early rounds of the 2011 WTA Tour Finals.
The 2010 US Open runner-up had been attempting to stage a comeback for quite some time although; her efforts haven’t been that fruitful. She spent most of the 2018 season playing on the ITF circuit without having any significant breakthroughs, that is until the Kremlin Cup came along.
She will now face the fifth seed Anastasija Sevastova in the quarterfinals, who is coming off after defeating Yulia Putintseva in the second round.
Pliskova’s defeat brought in a great sigh of relief for the Ukrainian No. 1 Elina Svitolina, who automatically qualifies for the 2018 WTA Finals. Her defeat has also opened up a new avenue for Kiki Bertens into the Finals, provided the Dutch manages to reach the semifinals in Moscow.
With Simona Halep struggling with her fitness and following her withdrawal from this competition, Pliskova could still qualify for the WTA Finals if the Romanian withdraws from it. A nervous few days ahead for Pliskova await her.