BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain - In the Pliskova twin sisters’ first ever WTA matchup, it was Kristyna who emerged victorious over Karolina to reach the quarterfinals at the Nature Valley Classic, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7).
The highly anticipated Pliskova twins’ matchup was in the cards ever since No.3 seed Karolina took a wildcard into the historic Birmingham main draw, but relied on lefty Kristyna to successfully navigate through qualifying and win her opening round match.
While fans were buzzing over a potential all-Pliskova derby since the draw was made, neither twin was particularly looking forward to the WTA’s historic first-ever main draw meeting of twins.
"So many people were talking about it already yesterday, and I was like, 'Come on, I still have one more match to go,” Kristyna told press on Tuesday.
"It's very strange to play her. It's family, so you don't want her...but still I want to win as well."
World No.3 Karolina was in big trouble early on as lefty Kristina took control of the match, seeking her career first Top 5 win against her sister. Her booming lefty serve kept Karolina on the defensive, pulling her out wide before threading down-the-line forehand winners.
She allowed Karolina just one break chance, and held firm for 1-1 with her trademark aces. Kristyna finally broke serve at 2-1, then reeled off the next three games in a row to build up a 5-1 lead before closing out the one-sided opening set with an ace.
Karolina didn’t have to wait long to turn the tables on her twin sister, taking her first break chance of the second set to lead 3-0. The lone break of serve would prove to be decisive, with the rest of the games going to the server as Karolina leveled the score at one set apiece.
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With both twins dialled in, the third set unfolded in a close battle as the Pliskovas desperately tried to break each other’s famous serves. Kristyna had to dodge danger as Karolina created a 0-40 lead on her serve, but held firm to keep them level. Instead, she took her first break chance to lead 3-1, extending her lead to 4-1 and looking ready to close in on the upset. The match had a few more twists left, though, as Karolina continued to pressure her sister’s serve - she had created two more break chances at 4-1 - before finally earning the break at 4-3 to get them back on serve.
They stayed toe to toe for the next five games, the twins fittingly marching into a third-set tiebreaker. An untimely Karolina double fault at 6-5 - just her second in the whole match - gave Kristyna the first match point, but she replied with a double fault of her own to make it 6-6. But at 7-7, Karolina once again double faulted to give Kristyna another match point - this time the lefty didn’t hesitate, and claimed the victory in just under two hours.
Kristyna fired a whopping 24 aces against her sister, who hit nine aces of her own. She led in the winners count too, hitting 49 winners against Karolina’s 25, and her aggressive play earned her three breaks from seven chances, while Karolina converted just two from eight.
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Through to the Birmingham quarterfinal for the first time, Kristyna will take on another Czech player next as she faces Barbora Strycova for a spot in the semifinals.
More to come…