Caroline Garcia topples No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova in U.S. Open’s first big upset

NEW YORK — With a stout return game and unshakable nerves, Caroline Garcia of France pulled off the biggest upset of the U.S. Open early Wednesday night, knocking off top-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 7-6 (2), in a second-round match in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The 50th-ranked Garcia, 28, who was No. 4 in the world two years ago, blistered a listless Pliskova in the opening set, then fought off two set points at 15-40 of the 10th game of the second before running away with the tiebreak.

“I knew she was going to come back,” said Garcia, who will play American Jennifer Brady, the No. 28 seed, in the third round.

Karolina Pliskova reacts after losing a game against Caroline Garcia in the second round of the U.S. Open. (Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran, USA TODAY Sports)

With the world’s top two players, Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, opting to sit out the first Grand Slam to be held amid a pandemic, Pliskova ascended to the top spot. She made the finals here four years ago, but couldn’t find anything close to her best form.

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Playing with conviction, going for lines, Garcia belted 30 winners to only 13 for Pliskova, and continually pummeled Pliskova’s second serves.

“I was really going for my shots,” said Garcia, who admitted it was surreal to be playing on a major show court with no fans, even with the happy outcome.

“You are not even sure the match is done because there is no noise,” Garcia said.

Follow Wayne Coffey on Twitter @wr_coffey

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