MIAMI, FL, USA - No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova faced off former nemesis Ekaterina Makarova, 7-5, 7-5 to win her first match in four meetings with the Russian and advance into the third round of the Miami Open.
"The match was pretty close in both sets, so that gives me some extra confidence to continue on at the tournament," Pliskova said after the match. "This was one of the toughest draws for me in the opening round, and knowing I beat someone I'd never beaten before, I just feel good about how I played. Hopefully, I can play at this level the next couple of matches, but I think the way I played today was really good."
The former World No.1 trailed Makarova by service breaks in both sets, but converted six break points of her own and maintained far cleaner stats to outlast the former World No.8 after one hour and 49 minutes on court.
Pliskova, who celebrated her 26th birthday with twin sister Kristyna on Wednesday, is a decidedly different player than the one she was when she and Makarova last played at the 2016 Australian Open, when the Czech powerhouse had still yet to advance into the second week of the major tournament. The perennial WTA Ace Leader went on to end that dubious distinction at that year's US Open and ascend to the top of the WTA rankings six months later.
In all, Pliskova struck 26 winners and five aces to just 27 unforced errors, while Makarova managed 23 winners but was undone by 36 unforced errors over the two-set tussle.
Still in search of a maiden Premier Mandatory title, Pliskova will next take on either No.32 seed Sorana Cirstea or BNP Paribas Open doubles champion Hsieh Su-Wei, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in singles earlier this year.
"I've never played Hsieh, but she has a very strange game; I've watched her a few times on TV, and with her drop shots and slices, it's clear she's trying to mix things up a lot.
"I played Cirstea in Asia last year, but I was totally awful, so I don't want to think about that match. Sorana has improved so much in the last two years after being off tour for a while. I think I've had good preparation for both with how I played against Makarova today."