BEIJING, China -- No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic eased into the second round of the China Open on Sunday, cruising past Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain, 6-3, 6-4.
"I think the conditions suit me well, because it’s pretty fast -- the balls are flying," Pliskova said on-court after the match. "I think I was serving well, and playing aggressive from the baseline."
Suárez Navarro had won three of her five previous matches against Pliskova, but they had not played in over two years. It was the World No.4 Pliskova who triumphed this time in 73 minutes, to even their head-to-head.
"The key was that I wanted to be aggressive, so she doesn’t have time to play her game," Pliskova elaborated, regarding Suárez Navarro. "We played a few times already, always it was kind of tough, but today was the easiest match I’ve played against her."
The first set was decided by only one break, although at the start, it looked as though Suárez Navarro would have the upper hand. The Spaniard had two break points at 1-1 to gain first blood in the match, but Pliskova erased them both with clutch play.
Suárez Navarro surely rued not taking advantage there, since she would not see another break point in the set. It was the Czech who saw the only other opportunity to break in the opening frame, and she converted it, stealing the World No.36's serve at 4-3.
Pliskova then served the set out, clinching the one-set advantage with a forehand winner. The former World No.1 had 16 winners to 13 unforced errors in the set, and won 88 percent of the points when she got her first serve in.
Pliskova continued her roll in the second set, breaking the Suárez Navarro serve in the first game. But Suárez Navarro played a solid game to break back for 2-2, leveling the set with a backhand winner down the line.
Unfortunately for the Spanish player, Pliskova upped the velocity on her returns, immediately regaining the break lead for 3-2. The Czech held for love to lead 4-2, and momentum was squarely on her side.
A love hold by Suárez Navarro to push the set to 5-4 was not enough to derail the Pliskova trolley, and the hard-hitting Czech closed out the match after a blistering forehand was too much for Suárez Navarro to successfully keep in the court.
Pliskova finished the match with 33 winners, to Suárez Navarro's 13. She maintained the effectiveness on her first serve throughout the entire match, and converted all three of her break points.
Pliskova will now face Andrea Petkovic in the second round, as the German qualifier rolled over Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, 6-4, 6-0, also on Sunday. "Definitely it’s going to be tough," Pliskova said, when asked about her next match. "She won a few matches here already, so I have to be ready."