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Pliskova avoids women’s Open carnage

Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sharapova have escaped trouble on yet another day of carnage in the Australian Open women’s draw.

Sixth-seeded Pliskova romped into the third round with a 6-1 6-1 dismissal of Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, joining former champion Sharapova, who earlier on Thursday ousted Latvian 14th seed Anastasija Sevastosa 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

Pilskova set up an all-Czech third-round affair with Lucie Safarova, a 6-2 6-4 winner over Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, while Sharapova will play fellow former world No.1 and 2016 Open champion Angelique Kerber or Croat Donna Vekic.

But third-seeded Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and British ninth seed Johanna Konta crashed out with straight-set defeats.

Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, the world No.88 coached by former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee, not only scuppered Muguruza’s Open hopes with her shock 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 victory.

Hsieh also dashed Muguruza’s immediate prospects of regaining the world No.1 ranking with a Melbourne Park triumph.

A former French Open and Wimbledon doubles champion, Hsieh will meet Agnieszka Radwanska in the next round. Poland’s 26th seed progressed with a 2-6 7-5 6-3 win over Belarusian Lesia Tsurenko.

American “lucky loser” Bernarda Pera stunned Konta 6-4 7-5 to continue her dream run after only gaining a last-minute entry to the main draw for the first time following the withdrawal of Russian Margarita Gasparyan.

The world No.123 looked anything but of out place as she struck 26 winners, seven aces and converted four of 17 break-point chances to take out Britain’s big hope.

Pera joins Thai surprise packet Luksika Kumkhum, 15-year-old Ukrainian sensation Marta Kostyuk and Czech Denisa Allertova to advance to the last 32 out of qualifying.

The Croatian-born 23-year-old left-hander will play Czech 20th seed Barbora Strycova on Saturday for a place in the fourth round.

Strycova beat Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena 6-3 6-4 in her second-round match.

French eighth seed Caroline Garcia narrowly avoided elimination, battling back from a third-set deficit to see off Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 8-6 in a two-and-half-hour scrap, played out in the searing early-afternoon heat.

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