MELBOURNE, Australia - Former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova continued a strong start to her 2020 Australian Open campaign, dispatching former Laura Siegemund, a former Top 30 player, 6-3, 6-3.
"I'm not sure if it was really nice tennis today," the always frank Czech star said during his on-court interview. "I think she has a very ugly game for me, so I'm never going to feel amazing playing her. I'm just happy to be through because this was an ugly match for me. Last time we played was on clay, and I think she's more difficult on that surface, so I'm just happy I'm through and hopefully I can feel better in my next round."
Pliskova, who defeated 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams en route to her first semifinal in Melbourne 12 months ago, overcame a slow start against Siegemund and is yet to drop a set Down Under, advancing after 86 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Siegemund was looking to make her first Grand Slam third round since 2016, the year she began her meteoric rise towards the top of the game, a rise that culminated in a title run at the 2017 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. It was there that she beat the 2016 US Open runner-up in their only prior encounter, and with rain falling in Melbourne forcing a roof closure, the two would once again face off on an indoor court.
Initially, the conditions seemed to favor the German veteran, who bounded ahead by an early break with the help of her signature brand of variety and off-pace shots. A point from a 1-4 deficit, The No.2 seed, who won her third Brisbane International title two weeks ago, quickly adjusted, and in some style, too, as she reeled off five games in a row to sweep the opening set.
"I love this country, and it also helps that this comes after all of the hard work during the off-season. I'm always looking forward to going to Australia and all the tournaments here. I played Sydney many times, and I've won Brisbane many times. I always feel happy here, I enjoy the tennis, and the crowd is always amazing.
"The offseason, I think, was good," she continued in post-match press. "I did a lot of work, and I was feeling good in Brisbane. I was there couple days more before the tournament, so I think it was good move just to stay there a little bit longer just to get used to the hot conditions.
"Here so far the weather keep changing, but I think I am more used to it. I like Australia. I always play well here. Of course it's only third round now, but I have played a lot of matches already, so I feel confident. I feel good enough to continue."
The second set continued in Pliskova's favor, as she broke first and battled through a long fifth game to put herself two games from victory.
Siegemund did her best to battle back, saving a break point that would have put her behind 1-5 and held a break point of her own in the next game. Pliskova gamely saved it and held on to book her spot in the Round of 32 on her third match point.
"I think against her you never gonna feel amazing because she tries to play a lot of styles, a lot of dropshots, slice. So there is a lot of different shots which she's playing.
"I think she just wanted me to feel this way, but I think I was just doing okay and just staying on my side of the court, being positive enough. Serving well today especially, so I think it was just solid match."
Statistically speaking, it was a solid day for Pliskova, who struck an impressive eight aces and racked up 22 total winners to just 15 unforced errors. Siegemund kept things close with 20 winners of her own, but was undone by 24 unforced errors, and could only break serve just once in the first set.
Up next for the self-styled Ace Queen, who won the junior title in Melbourne back in 2010, is the winner of a second round clash between No.30 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and American Taylow Townsend. Pavlyuchenkova has reached the quarterfinals of this event in two of the last three years, while Townsend stunned former World No.1 Simona Halep en route to the fourth round of the US Open in September - the biggest result thus far in her career.