Hon’s French Open charge ends, second seed Pliskova ousted in upset

Priscilla Hon is finally believing her own hype after taking powerful grand slam contender Madison Keys the distance in Paris.

The Australian wildcard fell 7-5 5-7 6-3 to the 14th seed in the French Open second round, with the third set resuming on Friday after Hon had forced a decider in fading light and rain on Thursday.

Near miss: In her first grand slam appearance, Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon forced 14th seed Madison Keys to a deciding set.Credit:AAP

Keys made the final four at Roland Garros last year and boasts a US Open final, Australian Open quarter and semi-final and Wimbledon quarter-final appearance since 2015.

Hon admitted she was surprised at her ability to match the big-hitting American from the baseline though, saying "she was expecting it to be harder than it was".

Keys still did enough to progress, sweating on Hon's second serve on Friday morning as the Australian was left to ponder what might've been.

"I think the light cost me a little bit and today I had a few chances," the 21-year-old said.

Rocked: Madison Keys was forcced to work hard for her second round win.Credit:AP

"It gives me a bit more belief in my game. Just to go into a third with her really helps me to believe that I can play decent tennis."

Hon admitted that belief had been a major sticking point in her development, but that she was slowly gaining some swagger on tour.

"Sometimes I think too much of the other player instead of what I should be doing," she said.

"Even a year ago when I would play I would be too nervous and think everyone's too good for me.

"Mentally I've changed bit and want to be winning these matches and even though she was the 14th seed, going into the match I wanted to win and knew I had a chance to."

Highly regarded Australian player-turned coach Darren Cahill would be happy to hear that, after tweeting "she looks better every time I watch her play" and that there was "a lot to look forward to".

"I just saw that before, that made me quite happy," Hon said of Cahill's surprise praise.

"I was pretty down; I sat there for like 45 minutes and then saw his tweet and that definitely brightened up my day a little."

Karolina Pliskova's quest for a maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open came to an end on Friday as the second seed lost 6-3 6-3 to Croatia's Petra Martic.

The powerful Czech struggled throughout to find the range on her feared serve and forehand as 31st seed Martic matched her best performance by reaching the last 16.

Out of touch: Karolina Pliskova reacts after missing a shot against Croatia’s Petra Martic.Credit:AP

Martic broke in the seventh game and then again two games later as Pliskova hit a backhand long to drop the opener.

A lacklustre Pliskova then dropped serve again at the start of the second set before hitting back with a flurry of winners to break her 28-year-old opponent twice in a row.

The fightback did not last though and Martic regained control with two more breaks before serving it out at 5-3.

"I think the score was closer than it looked in the end," a disappointed Pliskova said.

"I had chances in a couple of games but it was difficult for me today."

The 27-year-old Czech made twice as many unforced errors as Martic and complained that the Philippe-Chatrier court was slow, and therefore did not suit her game.

"She (Martic) played clever. She was patient too. I just made too many mistakes," added Pliskova, who came to Paris having won in Rome.

Martic, who will play an unseeded player next, either Estonia's Kaia Kanepi or Russian Veronika Kudermetova, tried to dominate Pliskova and mostly the tactic worked.

Damage done: Tournament 31st seed Petra Martic celebrates her upset win over her second-seeded Czech opponent.Credit:AP

"The key was to focus on my game and try to dictate instead of letting her dictate, which is her biggest strength," Martic said.

"I'm just happy that I managed in the end to hold my nerves and to finish it off."

There was better news for Pliskova's fellow Czech Marketa Vondrousova as the 19-year-old reached the last 16 with a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Spanish 28th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.

AAP

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