DOHA, Qatar - Former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova began her quest for a second Qatar Total Open title in emphatic style, dismissing American Bernarda Pera, 6-2, 6-0 to reach the third round.
Pliskova emerged virtually unscathed from several back-and-forth opening salvos to race through the contest, securing the win in just under 56 minutes on Centre Court.
"I think the beginning was a little bit tough," she explained after the match. "We both played well, there were a couple tough, long games, but then somehow it turned to be quite easy, especially the second set, she was missing a lot. But she's maybe loss her rhythm a little bit, I thought I was serving well, playing quite fast, so that can happen, I think."
The Czech powerhouse began 2020 in typically decisive fashion, capturing a third Brisbane International crown, but is yet to reach another final since, falling in the third round of the Australian Open against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Her Middle East Swing began with a run-in against the on-fire Elena Rybakina, who knocked out the 2016 US Open finalist en route to a second straight Premier final. Still, Pliskova had reason to feel positive in Doha after a rain-impacted 2017 run saw her win two matches in one day before defeating Caroline Wozniacki in the final.
Playing Pera for the first time, the pair battled through several long games to start; the No.3 seed saved two break points and shook off losing her initial 2-0 lead to race through the final 10 games.
"I was feeling great today so I think it's a good start, positive, definitely, to take those things which are working from today to tomorrow and then whatever is going to happen is going to happen."
The second set saw Pliskova at her very best, allowing Pera just seven points as she flew over the finish line.
"An easy start doesn't mean anything. So tomorrow we start from zero and there is different opponent, definitely a tough one. It can be Jabeur, who I played last time and went to third set and so definitely I'm not counting that it's going to be easy."
Up next for the 27-year-old is the winner of the final Centre Court clash, Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, who defeated Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open finalist Alison Riske 6-4, 6-3. Jabeur and Pliskova played a topsy-turvy US Open match last summer before the former No.1 made it to victory after three sets.
"I think she improved," she said of Jabeur. "Definitely I think she's working harder than she was, and she has good hands. She has a little bit different game than pretty much all the opponents. I think she can be tricky for everybody, you don't really have nice rhythm with her, so I think that is why she is tough. And of course great feeling, she can play so many good drop shots and slices, so everything possible, really, she can play."