Katie Boulter stunned last year's Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova at the Eastbourne International as the Briton secured the first top-10 scalp of her career.

Despite making a strong start, fourth seed Pliskova faltered and lost 1-6 6-4 6-4 to the world number 127 in the pair's last-32 match.

Boulter said: "I'm super-proud of myself today. I went out there and didn't feel great on court, and I worked so hard to battle and fight, and against a player like that it means so much to me, coming through that."

There was another major shock win for a British player later in the day as Jodie Burrage knocked out top seed Paula Badosa, the world number 169 triumphing 6-4 6-3 against a player who will be seeded fourth at Wimbledon.

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-4 and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova saw off Donna Vekic 6-1 7-6 (7-1), while Beatriz Haddad Maia's strong form on grass continued with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

Brazilian left-hander Haddad Maia is coming off the back of title wins in Nottingham and Birmingham and stretched her winning run on grass to 11 matches.

There were also wins in Eastbourne for Camila Giorgi, Madison Keys and Barbora Krejcikova, but Greek third seed Maria Sakkari bowed out, losing 3-6 7-5 6-4 to Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina.

At the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, the 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep scrambled for a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win against Katerina Siniakova, and sixth seed Amanda Anisimova came from a set down to see off Alison van Uytvanck in a third-set tie-break.

Bianca Andreescu saw off Martina Trevisan 6-3 6-1 and Angelique Kerber also won in straight sets, while top seed and recent French Open semi-finalist Daria Kasatkina reached the quarter-finals with a 6-1 3-6 6-1 win over Germany's Jule Niemeier.

Kasatkina will be absent from Wimbledon due to the ban on Russian players.

Serena Williams will find it "super difficult" to challenge for an eighth Wimbledon singles title when she returns to SW19 next week, according to Karolina Pliskova.

Williams announced her participation at Wimbledon after receiving a wildcard last week, having been absent since a first-round retirement against Aliaksandra Sasnovich at The All England Club last year.

The American great will team up with Ons Jabeur to play doubles at Eastbourne over the coming days as the 40-year-old prepares for her Wimbledon return.

But Pliskova, who lost last year's Wimbledon final to Ashleigh Barty, says Williams could struggle to match her previous exploits after coming back from a long-term leg injury.

"I don't know how long it has been since she has played. Has it been a year? It is a long time, and she is not the youngest any more, so I suppose the body also takes some time to get back into shape," Pliskova said ahead of her own campaign at Eastbourne.

"Playing matches at tournaments is still very different to just practising and from what I understand, she is not playing [singles] here, she is just playing doubles.

"I think it will be difficult, super difficult for her, no matter what kind of player she is because this is a thing where you still need some time.

"But of course, she is an amazing player, she achieved so much and still a number of players will be super scared to play her. This is her advantage but let's see the level. I cannot really say."

Pliskova has won two of her three grand slam meetings with Williams, eliminating her at the quarter-final stage at the 2019 Australian Open and in the final four at the 2016 US Open.

While the world number seven may have cast doubt upon Williams' chances, Paula Badosa is not keen on the prospect of facing the 23-time major champion on the grass.

"I think it surprised everyone but it's very good to have her back. It really amazes me how she has all this hunger for the game," the world number four said.

"It is a great inspiration. It is nice to have her back and I hope she can be back for much more time because I think she does very good for tennis.

"But the other side, of course I don't want to play against her! I hope the draw goes for another player because no one wants to play against Serena and [even] less on grass. Let's pray for that!"

Coco Gauff reached the first grass-court semi-final of her career by beating Karolina Pliskova at the Berlin Open, teeing up a clash with top seed Ons Jabeur.

Having already recorded her best tour-level run on grass by reaching the final eight, Gauff recorded a superb 7-5 6-4 win over two-time grand slam finalist Pliskova.

Gauff – who reached her first grand slam final at Roland Garros last month, saved four set points in the opener before roaring to victory in one hour and 37 minutes, and was delighted to have overcome a tough opponent in the world number seven.

"I'm super happy with how I played today," Gauff said on court after the win. "Playing her on grass, with her serve, how flat she hits the ball, it was really tough to be honest. 

"A first semi-final on grass is pretty cool, and also I feel like the opponents I've played this week haven’t been easy, especially today, so I'm proud of myself about that."

Gauff will face Jabeur for a spot in the final after the Tunisian fought back from one set down in a 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-2 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who entered the contest having won 26 matches during an impressive year.

The other semi-final will see Maria Sakkari face Belinda Bencic, after the world number six cruised to a 6-0 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina and Bencic beat Veronika Kudermetova 3-6 6-3 6-3.

In the Birmingham Classic, meanwhile, Simona Halep raced to a 6-4 6-1 win over Katie Boulter to reach the final four, but third seed Camila Giorgi fell to a 6-3 6-2 loss to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, who has now won eight consecutive games on grass.

While that pair will face off in one of Saturday's semi-finals, eighth seed Zhang Shuai will face Sorana Cirstea in the other. Zhang overcame Dayana Yastremska 7-5 6-4 and sixth seed Cirstea beat Donna Vekic 5-7 6-3 6-4.

Simona Halep won her first match on grass since 2019 as she cruised past Lesia Tsurenko to reach the second round of the Birmingham Classic on Monday.

Halep's last grass-court match was the impressive 6-2 6-2 defeat of Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final.

While Monday's triumph may not have been of comparable importance, the 6-1 6-4 win was a positive step in Halep's preparation for a return to SW19 later this month.

After saving three break points in the very first game, the former world number one rarely looked in trouble against her Ukrainian opponent, breaking Tsurenko's serve at the first opportunity.

She repeated the feat to go 5-1 up before serving to love to close out the set, though Tsurenko showed a bit more fight at the start of the second – only one of the first five service games was a hold.

Halep ultimately weathered the storm, however, taking her chance to go 5-4 up and once again served to love to wrap up the match.

Seeded second, Halep was the only seed in action on Monday and will meet home favourite Harriet Dart next, with the Brit impressively seeing off Camila Osorio – ranked 45 places better off – 6-2 6-0.

In Berlin, fourth and sixth seeds Karolina Pliskova and Daria Kasatkina secured their passage to the last 16.

Pliskova struggled initially against Kaia Kanepi but went on to produce two near-flawless sets to progress 6-7 (6-8) 6-0 6-0 – Kasatkina also came from behind, with an ankle injury to Anhelina Kalinina potentially aiding her 5-7 6-3 6-1 victory.

Bianca Andreescu was also among the winners in Berlin, with the Canadian beating Katerina Siniakova to claim only her second career success on grass.

Leolia Jeanjean became the lowest-ranked woman to beat a top-10 player at the French Open since 1988 as the world number 227 stunned Karolina Pliskova on Thursday.

French player Jeanjean was a promising youngster whose career looked to have been scuppered by knee trouble, but at the age of 26 she is making her grand slam debut in Paris and is through to the third round.

On Court Simonne-Mathieu, she crushed last year's Wimbledon runner-up Pliskova 6-2 6-2, surprising herself with the way she brushed off the eighth-seeded Czech.

It made Jeanjean the lowest-ranked woman to beat a top-10 opponent at Roland Garros since a 16-year-old Conchita Martinez upset ninth seed Lori McNeil at the 1988 tournament.

The then little-known Martinez would go on to win Wimbledon in 1994 and reach number two in the world.

As a teenager, Jeanjean reached 676th in the world in 2013, but she had slumped to 1,180th by November 2020. A once-promising career looked set to end with Jeanjean sliding into obscurity, but she thrilled the Roland Garros crowds with her dismantling of Pliskova.

Mixing her studies in finance with college tennis at Lynn University and the University of Arkansas has helped Jeanjean climb inside the top 250 on the WTA Tour, and her big-stage breakthrough has finally arrived in her homeland.

"I'm very, very happy," she said. "What's happening right now is something I never imagined before. When I stopped playing for four to five years I never imagined I'd be in the third round of a grand slam.

"The fact I never gave up and always believed in myself is probably why I'm here today. Now I'm 26, and it's my first grand slam. I thought I would have lost in the first round in two sets and I find myself beating a top-10 player.

"I don't know how it's possible that it's happening."

It was after Jeanjean sustained her knee injury that she chose to go down the US college route with her career, knowing many tennis stars have come through the system.

"I wanted to give myself another chance," she said.

Pliskova lost on clay to a player from outside the WTA top 200 for the first time since going down to Arina Rodionova in qualifiers for a tournament in Fes, Morocco, more than 10 years ago. Irina-Camelia Begu awaits Jeanjean in the third round.

Pliskova's exit was the latest in a string of shocks which have meant that for the first time at Roland Garros, six or more of the top 10 seeds have been eliminated in the first two rounds. She joined Barbora Krejcikova, Maria Sakkari, Anett Kontaveit, Ons Jabeur and Garbine Muguruza on that list of casualties.

The 30-year-old Pliskova said Jeanjean's variety made her an awkward opponent, and suggested the courts played slowly.

"I think this court is a bit too brutal,," Pliskova said during a news conference. "My serve was not working. I don't have a horrible feeling but, of course, like you lose, so of course I'm not happy about it, but I just want to give credit to her, I think she played a great match."

Denis Shapovalov has attacked Wimbledon and the ATP for the decisions that have led to fears of players skipping the grass-court grand slam.

Canadian left-hander Shapovalov enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the All England Club last year, eventually losing to Novak Djokovic, but he will lose all his points and be unable to defend them at the 2022 tournament.

The season's third major will not have any ranking points after the ATP and WTA, which run the men's and women's tours, respectively, effectively decided to punish the grand slam's organisers for banning Russian and Belarusian players.

Naomi Osaka has said she is unsure about playing in London on that basis, as she wants to play events where there are points available following a slide on the WTA list, and there are concerns others may also give it a miss. A number of players have voiced concern that prize money could be slashed too.

Shapovalov, who addressed the matter after a shock first-round loss to Denmark's Holger Rune at the French Open on Tuesday, said he did not agree with the banning of players or the subsequent points decision.

"I completely understand the politics and the situation they're in. But if you have a tennis tournament that's supposed to have the best athletes in the world, it shouldn't matter where you're from," Shapovalov said.

"I also don't agree with the ATP to take out all the points. The most guys it's affecting are the guys in the top rankings."

Referring to last year's semi-finalists in the men's singles, Shapovalov, who beat Andy Murray on the way to the last four, said: "Obviously Novak [Djokovic], me, Hubi [Hubert Hurkacz], [Matteo] Berrettini, who is not playing here, we're going to drop a lot.

"I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 per cent like they have in the past or some kind of fairness."

Karolina Pliskova lost to Ash Barty in the women's final at Wimbledon last year, and the Czech described the WTA's move to strip points from Wimbledon as a "super tough and unfair and bad decision".

She will play Wimbledon, which starts on June 27, because she feels it is a tournament she can win, and at the age of 30 she is determined to take every opportunity going to land a maiden grand slam. She could become champion this year but, because last year's Wimbledon ranking points will fall off, plunge down the rankings at the same time.

Intriguingly, Pliskova said leading WTA stars could not agree what action tour chiefs should take about points.

"We had a group of WhatsApp chat [between] top 10 players and these 10 girls could not agree on the same thing," Pliskova said. "Some girls were for no points, some were for 50 per cent, to keep just 50 per cent from last year, some were for like all the points. So it is what it is."

Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who won the French Open in 2017 and reached the Wimbledon semi-finals a year later, suspects there could yet be a twist in the saga to come.

Ostapenko said: "There are of course a lot of rumours and talks, but I think maybe they are going to change their mind. I'm not sure about points. But I think a lot of things may happen within the next week or two weeks.

"That's my personal opinion. Maybe I'm wrong. If there are no points, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do.

"I feel like it's a little bit unfair to play the tournament when there are no points and you can win the tournament and then you don't move one spot up in the ranking."

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz are all on the same half of the draw at the French Open, while women's world number one Iga Swiatek will face a qualifier in the first round at Roland Garros.

Djokovic, who will make his Grand Slam return having missed the Australian Open, opens in Paris against Yoshihito Nishioka, while record 21-time grand slam winner Nadal meets Australia's Jordan Thompson.

The veteran pair of Djokovic and Nadal could challenge each other in the quarter-finals in the top half of the draw, where Alcaraz could come across world number three Alexander Zverev.

Alcaraz faces a qualifier in the first round and has won 16 of his last 17 matches, with the one blemish on his remarkable run coming against Sebastian Korda, who the Spaniard could meet in the third round.

Daniil Medvedev will have to get past Argentine Facundo Bagnis in the first round, while Lorenzo Musetti stands in the way of last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are joined in the wide-open bottom half of the draw by Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev, who meet home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and South Korea's Soonwoo Kwon respectively.

In the women's draw, 2020 champion Swiatek comes in as favourite and will look to continue her 28-match winning streak when she faces a qualifier in the first round, as does US Open winner Emma Raducanu.

The Brit will then take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Wang Xinyu before a potential last-16 meeting with Ons Jabeur, who first has to get past Poland's Magda Linette.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova – who has a first-round clash with France's Tessah Andrianjafitrimo – could set up a quarter-final meeting with Swiatek, but the Pole may have to get past Simona Halep in the fourth round first.

Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova starts against Diane Parry, while Naomi Osaka was drawn against the in-form Amanda Anisimova, who beat the Japanese in the third round of the Australian Open.

Karolina Pliskova reached her maiden quarter-final of the season after battling past Bernarda Para in Strasbourg 6-3 1-6 6-1.

Runner-up to Ash Barty at Wimbledon last July, Pliskova has endured a stop-start 2022 campaign.

The Czech missed the first two months with a hand injury, while suffering first-round exits in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid.

But despite being taken to a decider by her French opponent, the top seed hit 16 aces on the way to reaching the last eight.

Second seed Angelique Kerber also required a deciding set to progress to her first quarter-final of the campaign; the three-time Grand Slam winner overcoming Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-4.

Fourth and ninth seeds Elise Mertens and Viktorija Golubic also advanced to the last eight following straight-set wins over Anna-Lena Friedsam and Fiona Ferro respectively.

However, there was no joy for top seed Garbine Muguruza over in Rabat; the two-time Grand Slam champion was beaten 2-6 6-4 6-1 by world number 85 Martina Trevisan.

The Italian's reward is a quarter-final showdown with seventh seed Arantxa Rus, who saw off Dalma Galfi 6-4 6-2.

Mayar Sherif was another seed to tumble; the Karlsruhe champion lost 4-6 7-6(5) 6-1 to Claire Liu, who triumphed in the Trophee Lagardere last week.

Third seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz recovered from losing the opening set to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 4-6 6-3 6-0, while Anna Bondar hit seven aces as she overcame Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-3. 

Top seeds Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber strolled to straight-sets wins in the first round of the Internationaux de Strasbourg, keeping the two former world number ones on course for a final meeting.

Having endured an injury-hit season to date, world number eight Pliskova made the perfect start to her campaign in France with a routine 6-4 6-2 win over Ukrainian 19-year-old Marta Kostyuk. 

Kerber, who is only missing a victory at the French Open – which begins later this month – to complete a Career Grand Slam, overcame teenager Diane Parry 6-3 6-4 in her opener, setting up a round-of-16 clash with world number 45 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Some of the other big names participating in Strasbourg, however, were not so lucky, with 5th and 6th seeds Shuai Zhang and Sloane Stephens crashing to first-round exits.

Shuai went down 6-2 6-3 to Belgium's Maryna Zanevska and Stephens capitulated to a 2-6 6-4 6-1 loss to Nefisa Berberovic, while Heather Watson set up a last-16 meeting with eighth seed Magda Linette by beating Katharina Hobgarski 6-4 6-1.

Meanwhile, Garbine Muguruza made a winning start to her campaign at the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Morocco, as the world number 10 builds towards a tilt at French Open glory having triumphed at Roland Garros back in 2016.

Muguruza had few difficulties in beating Anna Danilina 6-3 6-2, and will face Martina Trevisan in the round-of-16 after the Italian beat China's You Xiadoi 6-0 6-4.

Third seed Nuria Parrizas-Diaz had to come through a more difficult challenge in Rabat, overcoming Carol Zhao 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 6-2, while eighth seed Anna Kalinskaya was the highest-ranked player to fall at the first hurdle, going down 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 to Lucia Bronzetti.

Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa progressed to the third round of the Internazionali d'Italia with ease as the former continued her impressive winning run on Wednesday.

Top seed Switaek, seeking a fifth consecutive title, breezed past Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3 6-0 as she became the first female player to win 24 consecutive matches since Serena Williams in 2015.

Badosa followed suit by dispatching Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-1 in just an hour and 17 minutes, teeing up a third-round clash with Daria Kasatkina, who beat Leylah Fernandez 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2).

Aryna Sabalenka, the third favourite in Italy, also made light work of Zhang Shuai to triumph 6-2 6-0, while fourth seed Maria Sakkari cruised past Madrid Open semi-finalist Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-2.

Sakkari will next face a Rome rematch with Coco Gauff, who defeated compatriot Madison Brengle 6-2 6-4. Teenager Gauff's sole win against Sakkari came at this tournament in the second round last year.

Yulia Putintseva came from behind to beat Garbine Muguruza 3-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-1, and will next meet Ons Jabeur, who made it eight successive main-draw wins by defeating Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5 6-2.

Seventh seed Danielle Collins also battled past former world number one Simona Halep 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

There was no such joy for fifth seed Anett Kontaveit as she crashed out to Petra Martic in straight sets, while Jil Teichmann upset former Rome champion Karolina Pliskova in a three-set thriller.

Belinda Bencic, who was ranked as 12th seed, was another early casualty as she fell to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 defeat against American Amanda Anisimova.

Meanwhile, Jessica Pegula secured her third-round spot after Anhelina Kalinina withdrew due to injury, with Victoria Azarenka earning a straightforward 6-2 6-4 victory over Camila Osorio to get a shot at favourite Swiatek in the next round.

Amanda Anisimova celebrated her fifth career top-10 win by beating Aryna Sabalenka again at the Madrid Open.

The 20-year-old American would have headed into Thursday's match-up full of confidence having also defeated the world number four in Charleston earlier this month.

And again Anisimova came out on top, this time at a tournament where Sabalenka was the defending champion.

Sabalenka is now 0-4 against Anisimova, losing three times on clay, with this the underdog's first ever victory in Madrid.

A 6-2 3-6 6-4 triumph was sealed in an hour and 55 minutes, with Anisimova relishing the opportunity to take on one of the sport's foremost stars once more.

"It's always enjoyable to accept the challenge, even when it's a tough match, and push yourself and see how far you can go," Anisimova said.

"I enjoy these matches, even though they're very tough – especially when you get to win them."

While Anisimova can look forward to facing Petra Martic in round two, hers was not the only upset win, with Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko also ousted.

Pliskova lost in straight sets to fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova, as Ostapenko went down in three to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Simona Halep and next opponent Paula Badosa both came through unscathed, though, as did Belinda Bencic, Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur.

Jabeur's 11-9 first-set tie-break success against Jasmine Paolini was the closest any of that quintet came to dropping a set on day one.

Emma Raducanu will take on Iga Swiatek in an intriguing quarter-final at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix but Maria Sakkari and Karolina Pliskova were eliminated. 

US Open champion Raducanu overcame Tamara Korpatsch 6-0 2-6 6-1 to set up a meeting with world number one Swiatek. 

It will be the pair's first meeting on the WTA Tour and Raducanu's maiden encounter with a top-10 opponent. 

The Briton, who is playing her first Tour-level clay-court event, won 90 per cent of points on her first serve in the opening set but that slipped to 56 per cent as she opened the door to a comeback in the second. 

However, Raducanu rediscovered her composure in the decider and got over the line after an hour and 39 minutes.

Fourth seed Sakkari retired while 6-4 3-1 down to home hope Laura Siegemund, who will take on Liudmila Samsonova after she bested Pliskova 6-4 6-4. 

Paula Badosa came through a third-set tie-break to beat Elena Rybakina 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-4) and Aryna Sabalenka put a spanner in the works of Bianca Andreescu's comeback by taking their match 6-1 3-6 6-2. 

Ons Jabeur beat Daria Kasatkina and Anett Kontaveit eventually ousted Ekaterina Alexandrova in a tie-break finale after surrendering the first set.

At the Istanbul Cup, third seed Veronika Kudermetova was granted a walkover against Ana Bogdan.  

Seeds Ajla Tomljanovic (6) and Sara Sorribes Tormo (7) got past Lesia Tsurenko and Varvara Gracheva respectively, while there were also wins for Yulia Putintseva and Anastasia Potapova. 

Iga Swiatek continued her impressive form as she crushed qualifier Eva Lys at the Stuttgart Open to clinch a 20th successive win and sail into the quarter-finals.

The world number one was far too good for her opponent, as she claimed her 6-1 6-1 victory in slightly over an hour.

Swiatek, 20, last lost a match in February and has not dropped a set since Indian Wells in March, winning each of the last 26 – that is the best such run on the WTA Tour since Serena Williams won 28 successive sets between the 2012 US Open and 2013 Australian Open.

Having won each of the past three events she has entered, Swiatek is the hot favourite to make it four on the bounce in Stuttgart, where she could meet reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu next in the last eight.

Raducanu, seeded eighth, began her campaign with an emphatic 6-1 6-2 win over Australia's Storm Sanders on Wednesday to set up a second-round clash with Tamara Korpatsch – the winner faces Swiatek.

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova overcame compatriot Petra Kvitova 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-5) to progress, while Anett Kontaveit – the fifth favourite – saw off Angelique Kerber 3-6 6-4 6-4.

It was a bad day for some of the higher seeds in the Istanbul Cup, as three of the top five were eliminated.

Favourite Elise Mertens retired from her tournament opener with Rebecca Peterson due to a leg injury, though the Belgian was already 7-5 4-1 down.

Anhelina Kalinina and Jil Teichmann – seeded fourth and fifth, respectively – suffered surprise defeats as well.

Defending champion and second seed Sorana Cirstea appeared in danger of following them out as well, but rallied to defeat Arantxa Rus 3-6 6-1 7-5.

Ajla Tomljanovic also progressed, the Australian enjoying an impressive start against her countrywoman Jaimee Fourlis, winning 6-1 6-3.

Karolina Pliskova believes Ash Barty could return to tennis following her surprise retirement in March, but the Czech acknowledged she could not relate to the decision as she "likes the game too much".

Barty became just the second player to call quits on their playing career when ranked as world number one, after Justine Henin, with a shock announcement last month.

The 25-year-old cited a lack of "physical drive and emotional want" to compete despite claiming her second grand slam title at the Australian Open just two months before.

However, just as Henin did after retiring, former world number one Pliskova has a feeling that Barty, who defeated her in the 2021 Wimbledon final, may also return to the court in future.

"I was shocked because I'm not really on Twitter because I don't want to get too much information for myself," Pliskova told the WTA on Barty's retirement.

"But somebody messaged me and said, 'Oh, did you see the news?' It was 11:00 in the evening in Miami. I was like, 'No, no, did somebody cry again or something?' They said, 'No, no, Ashleigh, she stopped.' I'm like, 'No way, that's not possible. Tell me the reason.' 

"I understand everybody's different. For me, it's not understandable at all because I just like the game so much. But I understand somebody maybe suffers, somebody doesn't like to travel.

"She basically won everything that she wanted to win, I suppose maybe she had no motivation. If you hate this tennis life and it's not what you always wanted to do, I think it's good to stop. 

"But I was surprised and shocked. I thought she was a really good number one for our sport and she was there for a while. Of course now, Iga [Swiatek] is a really good player, but I just thought Ashleigh was a good person and she had good charisma. I'm going to miss her. 

"But you never know. I think maybe she's going to come back. And then she's just going to be 27."

Meanwhile, Pliskova is focusing on her comeback as she continues to recover from a freak gym accident that resulted in a broken arm, which delayed the start of her new campaign by two months.

The 30-year-old, who has reached two major finals, made an encouraging return as she defeated Ukraine's Katarina Zavatska at Charleston Open but fell to Ekaterina Alexandrova on Friday.

"It was tough because people who follow tennis or me, they know I don't really have injuries," she added. "Even if I feel something, I still play. I never skip anything, not even practice or a tournament.

"The only break I had was this Covid break and I don't think that helped me. This injury was a bit more serious because I could not use my arm. I had a cast for a month or two. So it was quite a difficult time.

"I think things are going quite well. I just try to take the positives out of it, that I'm able to play after a couple months. It's been too long for me because with the offseason together, I missed four or five months.

"I know I'm not the player which can have five months at home and then I come in and win a tournament. I need some time to go through the feelings and the matches. I know it's going to take time, but just happy to be back."

World number four Karolina Pliskova has withdrawn from the upcoming Australian Open, succumbing to a hand injury.

Pliskova – a two-time grand slam runner-up and 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist – hurt her hand in a practice session.

The 16-time WTA Tour champion will miss the main draw of the year's opening slam event, which gets underway on January 17, for the first time since failing to progress beyond qualifying in 2012.

"Unfortunately I hurt my right hand in practice yesterday and I won't be able to play in Adelaide, Sydney and Australian Open this year," Czech star Pliskova said.

"I am sad not being able to start my season in Australia and I will miss my Australian fans very much."

Australian Open officials also confirmed Pliskova's absence on Thursday.

"You will be missed, @KaPliskova. Wishing you a speedy recovery," the Australian Open wrote via social media.

Pliskova lost in the Australian Open third round at Melbourne Park earlier this year before falling at the second hurdle at the French Open.

The 29-year-old then reached the Wimbledon decider, trumped by world number one Ash Barty, followed by a quarter-final appearance at the US Open.

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