No.7 seed Karolina Pliskova held off an inspired effort by British wildcard Harriet Dart to move through to the second round of Wimbledon in three sets.
WTA Staff
July 2, 2018

LONDON, Great Britain - No.7 seed Karolina Pliskova held off an upset bid by British wildcard Harriet Dart and opened her campaign at Wimbled with a 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-1 victory. 

The 21-year-old from London scored a victory over Kristyna Pliskova last week at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne for her first WTA main draw win, and looked to score a pair victories against the Pliskova family as she pushed the former World No.1 all the way over two hours and six minutes. 

"I knew she has a good game on grass because the shots are pretty fast, staying pretty low, but my game was not the best. My serve was not the best," Pliskova said after the match.

"I still managed to find little bit my rhythm in the third set. That was much better. It ended up 6-1. Maybe if I play a little bit better in the beginning, it could be a little bit different."

Pliskova led 4-1 in the opening set before the wildcard hit back, breaking the No.7 seed as she served for the opener at 5-4. However, Pliskova steadied herself in the ensuing tiebreak, using her big serve to great effect, and overwhelmed the World No.171 en route to an early lead. 

Undunated by her near-miss, Dart sprinted out of the gates in the second set, breaking Pliskova twice en route to winning the first three games.

The British No.5 broke one of the WTA's biggest servers a total of three times in the first five games, and overcame a mid-set scare to send the match to a decider.

Serving with a 4-1 lead at 15-15 in the second set, Dart slipped on the green grass behind the baseline on Court 12 and took a tumble, leading to an off-court medical timeout.

After nearly 10 minutes, she returned to the court and saved two break points to later win that sixth game, and served out the set with aplomb to love. 

However, the Czech proved too strong for Dart in the decider, as she saved three break points in a marathon opening game that saw six deuces - and won the last five games of the match to move safely through to the second round.

"I think I played pretty well. It's my first time playing here in the main draw singles. Obviously disappointed to lose, but many positives to take forward," Dart said in defeat.

"These are all new experiences for me. I'm just trying to grab every opportunity, take it in my stride. I think I handled the whole situation quite well. 

[To begin the third se], she came out swinging. Her serve, especially on the break points, she was serving very big. It was difficult for me to get any chances.

"She definitely started to up her game a little bit in the third set. I couldn't quite get the score pressure on the board."

For Pliskova, she will look to improve on her form and go further than the round in which she stumbled a year ago, when she lost to eventual semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova on Centre Court.

The former World No.1 will square off against another woman who's held the top ranking - in two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.

"So far the weather is amazing here. It's pretty fast. The balls are flying. It's first couple of matches on these courts, so obviously the courts were in a good shape. It's still the same game plan what I had on all the surfaces. Maybe you use slice more, some slice serves as well. Otherwise, I have still one plan."
 

The former World No.1 will square off against another woman who's held the top ranking - in two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.

"So far the weather is amazing here. It's pretty fast. The balls are flying. It's first couple of matches on these courts, so obviously the courts were in a good shape. It's still the same game plan what I had on all the surfaces. Maybe you use slice more, some slice serves as well. Otherwise, I have still one plan."