SHENZHEN, China - Kristyna Pliskova pulled off one of the first big surprises of the 2018 season, upsetting reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, 6-1, 6-4 to earn her second career Top 10 win at the Shenzhen Open.
"I felt a bit nervous in the second set, but my serve was really working today, which was a big help," Pliskova said during her on-court interview.
Ostapenko was fresh off of welcoming 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams back to tennis in an Abu Dhabi exhibition, and was taking on Pliskova for the first time since meeting in the J&T Banka semifinal last spring.
A 14-minute second game proved vital as the Latvian fought off four break points with her slightly revamped service motion. But Pliskova, third among last year's Ace Leaders - two behind twin sister Karolina - converted the fifth and raced out to a 5-0 lead to start the match.
"My serve was great today, especially in the first set. I feel like it's really fast here, so that can be tricky for both of us, and the first of us playing fast won the point."
Ostapenko twice broke the powerful Czech's serve in the second set, but ill-timed errors ultimately proved her undoing. Pliskova gamely served out the match in one hour and 19 minutes behind 11 aces and five total breaks of serve.
For Pliskova, it was her first Top 10 wince since the 2016 Miami Open, when then-World No.7 Belinda Bencic retired after five games.
"My goal is, like last year, to break into the Top 20. Hopefully I can make it this year."
Up next for the 25-year-old is Romania's Ana Bogdan, who dispatched big-hitting Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets earlier in the day on Tuesday.