Rome Italy – Reigning champion Karolina Pliskova got off to a great start in her season as the BNL International of Italy, beating her Czech colleague Barbora Strycova in two sets to reach the third round.
Pliskova beat her opponent and controlled the exchanges with her forehand as she hit 26 winners and broke Strycova four times en route to a 6-3, 6-3 win in just over an hour and 15 minutes.
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“It wasn’t an easy job, but I thought I played pretty well today,” Pliskova told wtatennis.com after the match. “I felt the ball, I was serving quite well and in the important moments I tried. So it paid off “.
The number 2 seed arrived in Rome as reigning champion, but hoping to win again. Pliskova started the year with a win in Brisbane, her 16th career title, but has since struggled to record streak victories after leaving Australia.
Pliskova will certainly be pleased with her solid performance in the second round, where she only missed her serve once and won 71% of her service points.
“I love it here, and ever since it changed my feelings about Rome last year I think the conditions here can be quite good [for me]”, Pliskova said.
“I thought the pitch was actually quite fast … And since it’s so hot now, even more so than in April, when the tournament is normally, I think it might be good for me.”
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Taking on Strycova for the sixth time in her career, Pliskova puts her compatriot under pressure from the start at the Pietrangeli Stadium. She went deep back into the center of the court with her flat-bottomed shots and gave Strycova no corners to work with as she broke to take a 3-2 lead in the first set. Pliskova finished with another break as she won the opening set, 6-3.
A frustrated Strycova pushed the reset button in the second set and kept within contact distance of suit no. 2. He exerted pressure to break Pliskova’s serve, and broke at 4-3 to extend his tenure in the match. But her comeback was short-lived as Pliskova raised her level, breaking once again and closing the win in two sets, 6-3, 6-3.
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Pliskova will face Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova in the next round as she seeks her second quarter-final of the year. Blinkova defeated fellow qualifier Aliona Bolsova in three sets, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4) early in the day to advance.
“It will certainly be challenging,” Pliskova said. “I think she’s looking for her shots too, she’s playing a bit of a similar game to me. I have to serve well, play my game and in this way I think I can beat her. “