Simona Halep kicked off her Mutua Madrid Open title defense with a straight-forward win over J&T Banka Prague Open finalist Kristyna Pliskova.
WTA Staff

MADRID, Spain - No.3 seed Simona Halep put on an emphatic display to begin her Mutua Madrid Open title defense, dispatching Kristyna Pliskova, 6-1, 6-2, to ease into the second round.

“I blocked everything out,” she said after the match. “I didn't think about the fact that I won last year. It’s a different year, different tournament. Different everything. So I'm not thinking.

“I’m taking every match as it comes. I was a little bit nervous before this one because I know that she's very dangerous with the serve, with her being a lefty.”

Halep kicked off her clay court season with a run to the semifinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, but Pliskova has been equally eager to prove her bona fides on the terre battue, reaching her first clay court final last week at the J&T Banka Prague Open.

Karolina's twin sister had a quick turnaround from Prague to Madrid, playing the final on Saturday before traveling to Spain for her first match 24 hours later.

“It was quick because I started aggressive. I had this in my mind, to play my style, to play aggressive, to take her fast.

”She did great in Prague. She came yesterday. Maybe she didn't have time to get used to this court. But I wanted to do my job from the beginning. I think I did pretty well. I finished strong.”

By contrast, the Romanian had already been in Madrid for nearly a week, winning the inaugural Tie Break Tens event on Thursday and continued rolling on Court Manolo Santana, striking 19 winners to just 10 unforced errors in Sunday's 57 minute match.

Pliskova engineered four break points only for Halep to save all four, and convert four of her own six opportunities.

Up next for the defending champion is Italian Roberta Vinci, who outlasted Volvo Car Open winner Daria Kasatkina in three sets.

“I know her pretty well. Her slice is not easy, but I will get used to it in a few games. She's a good opponent. She's a tough player.

“But, you know, I have confidence that I can play very good tennis against her to win the match. But I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking just that I have to be aggressive again, to do my style, to do my job, and to try to win, try everything.”