TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - Top seed Kristyna Pliskova survived a tough battle against Hsieh Su-Wei to start off her Tashkent Open title defense with a hard-fought, 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-4 victory.
The nearly two-and-a-half hour marathon came down to the wire, with Pliskova needing to battle back from 2-4 down in the final set and reel off four games in a row to close out the match.
With the victory, Pliskova stays on track in her mission to become the first player to break the “Tashkent Open jinx”: no player in the event’s 19-year run has won the title twice - there has always been a new champion.
Up next, Pliskova will take on wildcard Kurumi Nara, who ended Uzbekistan’s final hope for a home champion after knocking out Nigina Abduraimova 6-1, 6-1.
It was much smoother sailing for the rest of the Top 3 seeds: No.2 Timea Babos dropped just two games in her 6-1, 6-1 victory over Johanna Larsson, and No.3 Tatjana Maria eased past Vitalia Diatchenko, 6-3, 6-1.
“I played some aggressive tennis and played well today,” Maria told Tashkent Open’s Sunder Iyer. “I hope that I keep the same form for the rest of the week.”
Maria will face Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16 after the Belarusian defeated Evgeniya Rodina 6-2, 6-2.
Last week’s Guangzhou finalist, No.6 seed Aleksandra Krunic, squeezed through a tight first set against Richel Hogenkamp before zooming to a 7-6(5), 6-0 victory.
“It was a close and tight first set against Hogenkamp,” Krunic said. “She came from Seoul and me from Guangzhou and its been a long journey for both of us - it was more of a mental match.
“It was difficult to maintain momentum, but I'm happy I took the first set and she cracked up in the second. The first match is always difficult, but I find the courts here to my liking.”
Also in action, No.7 seed Nao Hibino - last year’s finalist and a champion here in 2015 - had little trouble against Russian qualifier Irina Khromacheva, scoring a 6-3, 6-2 victory on her way to the second round. She is joined by Jana Cepelova, who defeated Tereza Martincova 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.