SAN JOSE, Calif. -- No.8 seed Karolina Pliskova rallied from a set down to defeat Katie Boulter 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the first round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. With the win, Pliskova snapped a two-match losing skid to the Boulter, including back-to-back losses on the grass of Eastbourne and Wimbledon last month.
Playing her first match since splitting with coach Sascha Bajin, Pliskova overcame a difficult serving day to hold off Boulter and tally her first hard-court win of the season. The big-serving Czech struck 16 double-faults, the most she has hit in a WTA match.
Ranked No.127, Boulter raced through the opening set to take it 6-1 in just 28 minutes. After going 0 for 3 on break points in the first set, Pliskova quickly reversed course in the second, breaking Boulter three times to build a 5-1 lead.
Boulter's comeback falls short: Boulter would rally from her second-set deficit to come within two points of the victory. She won four consecutive games to level the set at 5-5. After breaking through Pliskova's baseline defense with a steady barrage of forehand winners, Boulter would serve with a mini-break advantage at 5-4 in the tiebreak.
But Boulter could not capitalize on her advantage. Serving down 4-5, Pliskova found two unretunable serves to earn set point and converted on a Boulter forehand error to force a decider.
"I thought the first two sets were a bit weird because I thought she played really well in the first set," Pliskova said. "Then she started to miss more early in the second set and I started to play better, especially on my serve and return. Then it went fast back to 5-5. It was definitely a bad serving day for me today."
After an exchange of breaks early in the third set, Pliskova finally gained an insurmountable advantage when she broke Boulter for the third time in the set for a 5-3 lead. This time the former No.1 left nothing to chance, as she served out the win after 2 hours and 13 minutes.
"I'm happy it's over. Hopefully I won't see her anymore," Pliskova laughed, referencing her recent record against Boulter.
Stat of the match: Before today, Pliskova's previous mark for most double-faults in a match came at 2014 Seoul, where she hit 14 against Maria Kirilenko in the semifinals. Pliskova went on to win the tournament.
Pliskova on her coaching change: "I felt that we are not moving from one place. I'm the type of player who tries to look for solutions, different strategies, not to just stay the same way. Of course, maybe it's the right way but I don't think when you are 30 years old it's the right way.
"So I decided to change, also my fitness coach, because it's been the same people around me. It was almost two years with Sascha, which was incredible. I don't have any problem with him. He gave me a lot, but I just wanted something new and to hear different things."
Next up: Pliskova will face Amanda Anisimova in the second round. The 20-year-old American opened the tournament with a 6-2, 7-6(5) win over wildcard Ashlyn Krueger.