EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - Defending champion and No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova avoided an upset in her opening match at the Nature Valley International on Monday, taking out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

The Czech fell at the first hurdle last week in Birmingham to eventual runner-up Magalena Rybarikova, and needed a deciding set to see off the Russian for the first time in six career meetings. 

The World No.7 managed to come away with a victory despite seeing the Russian win two more points overall in the encounter - 83 to 81.

"It is tough to come in defending a title, but I was happy to get three sets on this court and a win today," she said on-court after the match. 

"I have good memories the past two years, because I made the final and won the title last year, and I like this tournament so much. I was getting used to [conditions] during the match, so hopefully the next one can be a little bit better."

The Russian had nearly two-and-a-half hours and three sets to get used to unusually sunny and warm conditions this week in Eastbourne on Monday, as she recorded a first-round victory over Sorana Cirstea.

However, Pliskova showed a steely nerve in the opener, as she served nine aces overall and saved all four break points she faced in a crucial fourth game.

The No.2 seed made the lone break of the first set - which she nabbed in the very first game of the match - stand up, despite needing five set points to move into the lead. 

"I don't think I played that bad but she just played a little bit better than the last matches where we played together," the Czech added to press after the match.

"It's everything now about the confidence. I feel like I was practicing well now, and I feel much better than I was feeling on clay in Paris, so, yeah, there is no reason why I cannot play well."

However, Pavlyuchenkova bounced back in style in the second set, converting three of the four break points she held overall.

The Russian dropped just seven points on serve overall in the second set, serving at 80%, and held on to the advantage she built after three of the first four games featured breaks of serve. 

"It could have been different if I held my serve first couple of games in the second set, but I felt like the serve was okay today," she added.

"Sometimes I was struggling a little bit with the closing the games. I was a lot of times up 30-Love or so. This match I think was very important that I won, because I know I can be better with every match I play."

Pliskova quelled the Russian's momentum early in the final set, breaking in the third game to lead at the first official changeover, and denied Pavlyuchenkova any chance to draw level thereafter.

The World No.7 saved a break point in her ensuing service game - the only one she faced for the duration of the final set - and topped off the victory with her fourth break overall.

The next test for the defending champion will be the winner of the second round match between No.14 seed Barbora Strycova and Donna Vekic. 

"I just won my first match on grass, so it's tough to say how I feel about Wimbledon, but still, I wanted to play more matches here to get more confidence and get more matches on the grass," the Czech said of the upcoming third Grand Slam of the season.

"When I lost in Birmingham, obviously that was tough draw there, a tough tournament, but I feel much better now."