NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Former World No.8 Ekaterina Makarova continues to be a dangerous presence against the game's best, dismissing No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova, 6-1, 6-3, to reach the second round of the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies.
"Karolina is always a very tough opponent," Makarova said during the on-court interview. "She's serving very good. I'm so happy because it was a very good match when she beat me in Miami. We just came from Cincinnati yesterday and today was a different feeling, but I'm glad I got through."
Fresh off winning the Western & Southern Open doubles title with Lucie Hradecka, Makarova returned to New Haven for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals in 2018 and played fearless offense to knock out the former World No.1 and lock down her third Top 10 win of the season in 58 minutes.
"It's very important to stay focused on your own serve and play aggressively," she explained after the match. "It was working today."
Undefeated against Pliskova before 2018, Makarova took her first loss to the 2016 US Open finalist earlier this year at the Miami Open, but was far more efficient today, striking 22 winners to just 15 unforced errors and converting four of five break point opportunities against the perennial WTA Ace Leader.
"Today was a very good match from me. I was more relaxed, but I'm so happy I'm here in New Haven.
"I think this is a very good stadium, comfortable courts. The big stage is very soon so we're all preparing for that one, but this is a very nice tournament and I always want to come back here."
Pliskova recently ended her coaching partnership with Tomas Krupa and was working with Rennae Stubbs in Cinncinati on a temporary basis, and is still in search of the consistency she found during the clay courts - winning the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and reaching the Mutua Madrid Open semifinals - hitting 14 winners and 21 unforced errors and failing to convert and of her three break point chances.
Up next for the former WTA doubles No.1 is 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova, who survived an injured CoCo Vandeweghe in a truncated third set following the American's reitrement.
"She's another good player. She has a different styling, mixing everything up, and slicing and spinning different shots. It'll be important for me to stay with my game, be solid, and we'll see what happens."