SINGAPORE - Karolina Pliskova kicked off play for the White Group at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global in emphatic fashion on Sunday, surrendering just four games to defeat Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-2.
With the victory, the No.3 seed stands at 1-0 in the round robin format, while the No.5 seed starts off at 0-1. The White Group also consists of Garbiñe Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko, who were set to face off in Sunday's second match.
As it happened: Pliskova makes statement to start WTA Finals
Emphatic in all parts of the 72-minute encounter, Pliskova won nearly 70% of the points played on her own serve and broke the American five times - a far cry from the dramatic, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) victory the Czech recorded in the matchup last summer at the US Open.
Cracking a staggering 25 winners to double up against her unforced errors (12), Pliskova earned the victory on her fourth match point, denying Williams a chance to navigate out of a final service game in which she battled back from 0-40.
"I felt pretty good, actually I felt really good," Pliskova said after the match. "I think everything was fine with my game today...I think I was just a little bit better today, even from the baseline, even from my service games. There was no need to panic with anything in my game.
"There are no easy matches here in Singapore, so you have to be ready from the first point. That's what I was trying to do, and it worked."
The Czech jumped out to an early lead, setting the tone with a break in Williams' first service game of the match. Though the American got the first set back on serve on her first opportunity, a love break in the sixth game quickly restored order on Pliskova's side of the net.
Making just four unforced errors over the first 32 minutes, Pliskova added a third break of the American's serve to wrap up a one-set lead, 6-2.
"We started out with a couple of breaks, but in the end she played really well and there's the next match to focus on now," Williams said. "I just have to put the ball in the court, is what it boils down to. I've been in this position before so I'll be back on Tuesday.
"I felt like I returned well today, I just didn't execute as well during the point. I was playing better in the second set, but she just seemed to have all the answers."
The American staved off losing serve for a third straight time in her opening game of the second set, saving a break point to draw level at 1-1.
The longest game of the match followed, as Pliskova saved a pair of chances which would've seen Williams take her first lead of the match, holding on after five deuces to stay in front.
The No.3 seed broke for the fourth time in the fourth game of the set, as a pair of love holds helped her move won game away from victory. Though Williams battled hard, saving a break point to stay in touch for 4-2 and three match points in the final game, Pliskova would not be denied and started her WTA Finals campaign with a win for the second straight year.
"I had a little thought in my head [about the US Open match], but it was a little bit different match," Pliskova said. I was absolutely calm about it. Even if I lost that game, I still had my serve, which I only lost once so I was okay."
"For me, I feel like I can't have a better start than I had today. I had the same last year, so you always feel more relaxed coming into the next matches that you have that one win. You don't feel that extra pressure that you have to get some wins. I don't know how I'm going to feel on Tuesday but I'm sure it's going to be good, and at least close to how I was playing today."