ZHENGZHOU, China -- No.1 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic powered through to the quarterfinals of the inaugural ICBC Credit Card Zhengzhou Open with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Polona Hercog of Slovenia on Friday morning.
Though the scoreline looks straightforward, the match was anything but, as World No.2 Pliskova had to wait a day and a half to polish off her win. The encounter commenced on Wednesday, but was interrupted by rain with Pliskova up a set but down 2-5 in the second set. After an all-day rainout on Thursday, Pliskova then survived five set points upon Friday's resumption before fighting back for the straight-set result.
"I think it was a quite solid couple of games from me today," said former World No.1 Pliskova, who ended up winning all five games contested on Friday, and completed the match after an hour and 46 minutes of total action. The Czech had 24 winners and 33 unforced errors in the encounter, but that was enough to get past World No.53 Hercog, whose 17 winners were doubled by 34 unforced errors.
"I have to play my next match [today], of course, so it’s a big help I didn’t have to stay too much on court," Pliskova stated.
— WTA (@WTA) September 13, 2019
Indeed, Pliskova will now have to pull off a quick turnaround and come back on court later on Friday to contest her quarterfinal clash against No.6 seed Sofia Kenin of the United States. Pliskova has a 3-0 head-to-head lead over Kenin.
"We’ve played a couple times, it was always hard matches, we played three-setters, a couple close sets," said Pliskova, of Kenin. "Of course, I feel quite warm after I played some games today, so hopefully I can make it."
Despite getting only 48 percent of her first serves into play in the opening set and firing four double faults during that timeframe, Pliskova was able to twice come back from a break down early in the match. The Czech was able to win 71 percent of points when she got her first serve into play during that set, and reeled off four straight games to earn the one-set lead.
Hercog could only win one-third of her first-serve points in the first set, but she recovered her game to start the second stanza, breaking Pliskova for a 4-2 lead. The Slovene held easily for a 5-2 lead before the skies opened and rain stopped their match on Wednesday, and rendered any play impossible on Thursday as well.
— WTA (@WTA) September 13, 2019
Upon their return on Friday, Pliskova let a 30-0 lead slip in the first game of the day, and she double faulted to give Hercog a first set point. Fabulous forehands pulled Pliskova out of that dire predicament and she eked out a hold for 5-3.
Hercog then served to level the match, where she squandered two set points with backhand errors, and had her fourth and fifth set points erased by solid forehand work from Pliskova. The No.1 seed then reached break point with a backhand winner down the line, which was converted after a Hercog rally forehand found the net, putting the set back on serve.
Pliskova zoomed to the win from there, holding at love for 5-5 and breaking Hercog with ease to take a 6-5 lead. Another forehand winner brought the Czech to match point in the very next game, and Pliskova clinched her fifth straight game, and the victory, after a netted return by Hercog.