Russian qualifier Gasanova stuns Pliskova in Abu Dhabi

(Reuters) – Russian qualifier Anastasia Gasanova, who made her maiden WTA main draw appearance this week, could barely believe what she achieved on Saturday after breezing past former world number one Karolina Pliskova in the second round in Abu Dhabi.

The 21-year-old qualifier, ranked 292nd, had won her first-ever tour-level match in the opening round of the WTA 500 event to set up the clash with Czech Pliskova in her first meeting with a top 100 player.

But Gasanova, whose goal is to break into the top 200 this year, took just 72 minutes to secure a 6-2 6-4 victory against world number six Pliskova.

“It was not me on the court,” Gasanova told reporters amid continuous giggles. “I was so sure of myself. I’m really happy right now.

“I’m really surprised, but when I woke up today, I thought, ‘Why not? Why can’t I win this match?’. Actually, I thought I would lose in qualifiers or something like that, but I just kept pushing myself, like, I need to win and I want to win.”

Gasanova will next play Spain’s 66th ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo in the last 16.

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