BRISBANE, Australia -- No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic entered the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International on Wednesday after moving past her fellow Czech, qualifier Marie Bouzkova, 7-5, 6-2, in one hour and 21 minutes.
"It’s always tough to play Czechs," Pliskova told the press, after her victory. "I think [it's a] solid win, I felt better than in the first match [against Putintseva]. Hopefully, I can still improve."
The former World No.1 battled through a stern first set against her compatriot before crusing through the second set to claim victory. Powerful-serving Pliskova won 77 percent of points on her first delivery and fired three aces to clinch her first meeting with Bouzkova, who at 20 years old is six years Pliskova's junior.
"It was pretty hot out there, but I was lucky to get in the shadows a little bit, and I was also playing in the afternoon, which is a little bit better," Pliskova responded, when asked about the Queensland conditions. "I felt great -- I had a great off-season, so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be ready."
Pliskova will now face either home-nation hope Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia or Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the final eight.
The expected Pliskova power game gave her the early edge, as she raced to a 3-0 lead. But Bouzkova demonstrated the game that pulled her through qualifying and a first-round victory over Australian legend Samantha Stosur, firing outrageous down-the-line winners off both wings to break Pliskova back for 3-2.
The bounty of well-placed groundstrokes from Bouzkova continued to keep her level with the rockets coming from Pliskova's serve and forehand throughout the majority of the first set, and both players held their nerve to survive close games up to a 5-5 deadlock.
But after another clutch hold by Pliskova gave her the 6-5 lead, Bouzkova finally faltered just a bit on her serve. A long forehand miscue by Bouzkova at the end of a protracted rally gave Pliskova her first set point, and the fifth seed converted that chance after a dipping forehand proved too difficult for Bouzkova to pick up.
In the second set, Pliskova claimed the first break over an error-prone Bouzkova to lead 2-0. But the qualifier remained unfazed, getting back on serve in the following game as Pliskova misfired in the face of outstanding Bouzkova defending.
Nevertheless, Pliskova continued to tighten up her game, finally getting a handle on returning the Bouzkova serve for good as the match reached its conclusion. The former top-ranked player reeled off four games in succession to close out the match, ending the encounter by pasting a service return deep into the court and forcing an error from Bouzkova.