INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Down, but never out, No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova dug deep in a dramatic opening set to secure a second round victory over Irina-Camelia Begu at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night, 7-6(4), 6-1.
Blitzed by a streaking Begu early in the match, Pliskova trailed 5-1 to begin the match and saved a pair of set points, before rolling through the second set behind three breaks of serve to forge a comeback in 91 minutes.
The Czech scored a victory over the Romanian No.3 for the second straight year in Indian Wells, having defeated Begu a round later last season, 6-4, 7-6(2).
"I started a little bit nervous, so the start was not perfect. I think she was playing very well at the beginning, especially the serve," Pliskova said on-court after the match.
"She was putting a lot of first serves in. I'm just happy that I turned the first set around and that was the key to the whole match. This does not happen every day, so I'm just happy that I'm through."
In a match of two halves, Pliskova struck 25 of her 28 unforced errors in the opener to just 16 winners.
When all was said and done, however, the No.5 seed ended the encounter with a total of 30 winners overall, and hit 14 finishers to just three errors over seven games in the second set.
"I think I found my rhythm at the end of the first set and in the second, so I'm pretty happy that I finished with a rhythm than how I started," Pliskova added after the match. "I didn't play too good in my last two tournaments...I was happy with the second set because my serve was much better, returns were better and I was playing more aggressive.
"I think she was frustrated as well, but I found my game a little bit so I just need to continue playing like this from the beginning."
Pliskova will next face No.32 seed Zhang Shuai, who defeated American teenager Sofia Kenin, 6-2, 6-3 in her second round match.
Though the Czech leads the pair's head-to-head 6-0, three of their career meetings have gone the distance - including two of the three that they played last season.
"We've played quite a lot of times, but the last one I remember was in New York [at the US Open last year]," Pliskova said.
"It's going to be tough because there's not going to be any surprises, but I know I can beat her. I think I have the game to beat her, but I have to play well."