DOHA, Qatar - Defending champion Karolina Pliskova dug deep to dispatch French veteran Alizé Cornet, 6-2, 6-3, to extend her Qatar Total Open winning streak to five straight on Wednesday.
"I feel confident," Pliskova said during her on-court interview. "Even though I wasn't playing the last few days because I was sick, I was feeling good on the court today. I think it was a good start at the tournament for me. It's not an easy draw this year, so I'll try to take it step by step and play as many matches as I can."
The longtime Ace Leader suffered slow starts in each set against Cornet, who battled out to early break advantages both times.
"Overall from the baseline I was feeling quite good," she explained after the match. "Just on the serve I was a little bit off. So I think my energy was kind of low with the serve, but, yeah, it was enough today. A little bit windy, so I think it helped me kind of the wind today. I was used to it from last year. I remember it was almost the same wind. So I think she can play well.
"For sure she doesn't give me much mistakes, so I had to most of the time play the points and play the balls. So I think it was a good start. Could be better, but it's a start I'm satisfied with."
Pliskova rallied quickly in the opening set, winning six straight games, but Cornet appeared in control after saving three break points in a long fourth game of the second set. The former World No.1 showed all her mettle from there, winning the last five games to secure victory in 70 minutes.
"I've been practicing," she said of her post-Australian Open preparation. "We had Fed Cup in our country last week, but even as I was sick, I still tried to stay fit so I could be ready for these two tournaments here and in Dubai."
In all, Pliskova struck an impressive 24 winners to 11 unforced errors, converting five of 12 break point opportunities against Cornet, a former World No.11.
"I've been feeling my game from the baseline. It's just fine. So I've been having a couple of matches already this year. I think I've been playing solid. Not the best for sure, but as a start I think it's similar to last year, the start. So we'll just see in the middle of the season. Now it's tough to say. I was practicing pretty well, but got too sick. I was sick twice, once in Thailand, once now, so hopefully I'm not sick anymore during the season."
Up next for the 2016 US Open finalist is young American Catherine "CiCi" Bellis; the pair last played at the Brisbane International, where Pliskova dropped just two games.
"We played not too long ago. I remember the match, and I'll have to play aggressive because she runs very well at the baseline. I still have to play my game, serve better than I did today, and hopefully I can win that match."