Pliskova off to hot start with sec­ond round win

Cape Breton Post - - Sports -

Karolina Pliskova stepped onto the court, shook off some nerves, and be­gan her run as World No. 1 on a pos­i­tive note.

The 25-year-old from the Czech Repub­lic downed Rus­sian Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkova 6-3, 6-3 on Wed­nes­day to reach the third round of the Rogers Cup, ex­tend­ing her win­ning streak over the 19th-ranked player to five straight matches.

“I had a lit­tle bit (of nerves) be­fore my match be­cause I re­ally wanted to win this one,” Pliskova said. “Also I knew I have a good record against her. So I just knew if I play solid and OK I can win it.”

As the top seed, Pliskova re­ceived a bye into the sec­ond round. She be­came the World No. 1 when Jo­hanna Konta beat Ro­ma­nia’s Si­mona Halep in the quar­ter-fi­nals at Wim­ble­don.

Halep, the cur­rent No. 2-ranked player in the world and de­fend­ing Rogers Cup cham­pion, played the late draw against Slo­vakia’s Mag­dalena Ry­barikova.

Pliskova, who fired four aces and broke Pav­lyuchenkova seven times over the one hour 12 minute match, said that be­ing the top player in the world didn’t make her feel any dif­fer­ent be­fore it started.

“I was not re­ally think­ing about this,” she said be­fore as­sess­ing her play.

“I think some mo­ments (of the match) were OK, but oth­er­wise the serve was not great and over­all I was not real happy with my game to­day. But it was enough and so another chance to­mor­row to im­prove.”

Pliskova will play Ja­pan’s Naomi Osaka in the third round. The 50th-ranked Osaka up­set No. 16 Anas­tasija Sev­as­tova 6-3, 6-4.

In another up­set, Amer­i­can teenager Cather­ine Bel­lis

downed eighth-seed Svet­lana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-5. Bel­lis won 74 per cent (39 of 53) of her first­ser­vice points and broke the 32-year-old Rus­sian three times.

The 18-year-old Bel­lis, ranked 36th in the world, broke Kuznetsova in the first game of the first set and twice more in the sec­ond, in­clud­ing in a cru­cial 11th game that gave her a 6-5 lead.

“I think I played re­ally well to­day,” Bel­lis said fol­low­ing the sec­ond ca­reer win against a top10 op­po­nent. “Ob­vi­ously I told my­self I had to (play well) be­cause she’s un­be­liev­able.”

Bel­lis will face France’s Caro­line Gar­cia, who de­feated Amer­i­can qual­i­fier Var­vara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-4, in the third round.

Wim­ble­don cham­pion and fourth seed Gar­bine Mugu­ruza of Spain moved on with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Bel­gium’s Kirsten Flip­kens.

Mugu­ruza, who will next play Aus­tralian qual­i­fier Ash­leigh Barty, ad­mit­ted to be­ing frus­trated

af­ter fail­ing to make some shots against Flip­kens in the first set.

“It was hard. I think that I had a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the set, and I felt like I didn’t use them,” the 23-year-old Spa­niard said. “So, you know, I just tried not to be very frus­trated, tried play­ing, con­cen­trat­ing and think­ing that I will have another chance.”

Barty up­set 16th-seeded Elena Ves­nina 6-3, 5-7,6-4 to ad­vance.

In other sec­ond-round play, ninth-seed Venus Wil­liams earned her sec­ond ca­reer win in Toronto, a 7-5, 7-5 vic­tory over Ka­te­rina Sini­akova. Wil­liams, the run­ner-up at the Aus­tralian Open and Wim­ble­don this year, hadn’t won in the Cana­dian city un­til she beat Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round on Mon­day.

Ag­nieska Rad­wan­ska topped Timea Ba­bos and Lu­cie Sa­farova moved on with a win over Do­minika Cibulkova.

CP PHOTO

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Repub­lic hits a back­hand on her way to de­feat­ing Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkova of Rus­sia in Rogers Cup ten­nis ac­tion in Toronto on Wed­nes­day.

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