When Rising Stars Clash In The Qualies
Published March 05, 2013 12:00
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - It was a very unique match-up for the qualies draw - Karolina Pliskova, who just won her first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur, against Olga Puchkova, who just made her first WTA final since 2006 in Florianopolis. Almost bad luck to draw each other in the first round of qualies, really.
But Puchkova had won three of their four previous meetings, and with one more day to recover from her big result than her opponent, the Russian managed to win in straight sets, 64 62 - and it was all about the big points, as Puchkova converted four of eight break points, Pliskova just one of seven.
Puchkova would go on to play Renata Voracova in the second round of qualifying later in the day.
Pliskova still has a lot to be proud of, however - two days ago she stormed through a packed draw in Kuala Lumpur, not losing a set en route to her first WTA final and then battling back from a first set blowout to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands in that final, 16 75 63. Before that week, her best result at the WTA level was just one quarterfinal, on her home soil in Prague all the way back in 2008.
"It has been a bit of a surprise to play so well this week, and it's a very good feeling to reach my first WTA final," Pliskova said going into the final in Kuala Lumpur. "I played Bethanie once before and lost, but it was a close match, and I'll just keep trying to play the game I've been playing all week."
Mattek-Sands very nearly won the final - she blew through the first set and served to take the second set to a tie-break - but Pliskova summoned all of her energy and managed the comeback triumph.
"Bethanie was playing much better than me in the first set - she was returning my serve very well and stressing me out," Pliskova commented. "It wasn't like my other matches. I didn't know what to do out there. I felt she was pushing me back a lot. But I just tried to forget about the first set and kept fighting, kept focusing on my own game, and I started serving better and playing better overall.
"From the second set everything was improving and I'm so happy I managed to win."
Pliskova's twin, Kristyna Pliskova, had already cracked the Top 100, and by virtue of the Kuala Lumpur result, Karolina Pliskova did the same. The two Czechs, who had tremendous success in the juniors, have been going deep into doubles draws for a while now, but which discipline will they focus on more?
"Actually I prefer to play singles now, because we fight a lot in doubles, though it's getting a bit better!" Karolina Pliskova said. "For now singles, but maybe we'll like doubles more in the future."
A number of big names featured in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw on Tuesday - former Wimbledon semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, former French Open quarterfinalist Sesil Karatantcheva, former Top 20 player Eleni Daniilidou and former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic.
The main draw of the Premier-level tournament in Indian Wells begins on Wednesday.