BEIJING, China – WTA World No.4 Karolina Pliskova came through a stern test against Andrea Petkovic to reach the last 16 of the China Open 6-4, 6-4.
Pliskova had lost her previous meeting with the WTA World No.107 so was well aware of the challenge facing her before taking the court, yet she made a confident start and earned two break points in the opening game.
However, the No.4 seed made the breakthrough in the seventh game with some terrific all-court play, having saved the first break point she faced in the match in her previous service game with a second serve ace.
One break proved to be all that was required as Pliskova took the set at the second opportunity, though not before her opponent had made a dramatic successful Hawkeye challenge on the far baseline.
The standard remained high in the second set but both players missed chances to take the upper hand. Petkovic saved three break points in the fifth game but contrived to squander four of her own, including three in succession, when Pliskova next served.
"My serve saved me," the Czech admitted. "I was some break points down but always served well."
Following treatment on her left ankle midway through the following game, Petkovic succumbed on serve to her higher-ranked opponent, who played a delightful half volley en route to securing the break that would ultimately seal the match.
There was, however, to be a late scare as Pliskova faced two more break points as she served for the match, yet she saw off both to secure a hard-fought success.
Having already qualified for the World Tour Finals, her focus lies very much on the weeks ahead, with Rennae Stubbs, a multiple-Grand Slam doubles winner, to coach her in Singapore.
Until then, she is content with however things go.
"I just want to enjoy it," she said. "Both things are good; if I lose, I get to go home, but if I win I get the tournament. It's not a tragedy if I lose.
"I don't want to destroy myself mentally before Singapore, to push and be stressed. I just want to play normal tennis."
Sorana Cirstea, who beat Christina McHale 7-6(4), 6-0, is up next for Pliskova.