EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova surged into the Round of 16 at the Nature Valley International, dismissing a resurgent Margarita Gasparyan, 6-3, 6-3.
Playing just her third match of the grass court season, the former World No.1 and 2017 Eastbourne champion played a mix of power and finesse to knock out the Russian after 66 minutes on Centre Court.
"I think I played so far the best match on grass," Pliskova said, in her post-match press conference. "Of course not having many matches on grass, I think it's good that I can move to play the next one here. And, of course, I always felt quite good on this grass here in Eastbourne, by playing two times [in the] final."
Pliskova and Gasparyan played just once before, with the latter dropping just two games at the Qatar Total Open in 2016. Since then, Gasparyan endured nearly two years away from the sport to deal with a knee injury, beginning her climb back up the rankings last spring and finishing the year ranked inside the Top 100 after winning her second career title at the Tashkent Open.
In the meantime, Pliskova went on to her first major final and become World No.1, and arrives in Eastbourne having won one of the biggest titles of her career at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Last week in Birmingham, though, she lost a tough three-setter to twin sister Kristyna.
"I didn't enjoy the match [with Kristyna] at all, not even for a while," Pliskova said. "But on the other hand, I'm just happy that it happened, because it can happen in the future and it's going to happen for sure again somewhere, it can be [in a] Grand Slam. So I think it's good that it's behind us, and now, you know, we can know a little bit what to expect if we play each other."
Pliskova rebounded well from last week against Gasparyan on Monday, breaking the Russian in her opening service game and holding on with ease to take the opening set.
The second set saw the Czech powerhouse race out to a 5-2 lead, only for Gasparyan to earn her first break points as Pliskova served for the match. Though the Russian broke back, Pliskova soon earned match point, converting her second as Gasparyan missed a forehand long.
In all, Pliskova struck 28 winners to just 20 unforced errors, hit six aces and converted four of 11 break point opportunities, while allowing just those two break point chances at the end of the match.
Pliskova said that her recent consistency is "something what you need to work on, even every day in the practice."
"Sometimes you have tournaments where you play and you feel, like, this is your week," the Czech added. "And then you have tournaments where you just don't feel like you're going to beat some players, but the players are still behind you, so you have to still beat those players. I felt like with me, it took some time as well."
Standing between the No.2 seed and a spot in the quarterfinals is either No.13 seed and Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova or Qatar Total Open champion Elise Mertens.