Karolina sur­vives early scare against Mon­ica

New Straits Times - - Sport -

IN­DIAN WELLS: Karolina Pliskova roared back from a set down to out­last Olympic gold medal­ist Mon­ica Puig 1-6 6-4 6-4 as the Czech third seed avoided a ma­jor up­set at the BNP Paribas Open in Cal­i­for­nia on Fri­day.

Karolina, af­ter fall­ing be­hind 30 in the third set, fought through a long sixth game to help turn the tide and won six of the last seven games to ad­vance to the third round.

“I’m def­i­nitely happy I had my serve to­day; it was work­ing with me, es­pe­cially in the third set when I was 0-3 down,” she said in a court­side in­ter­view.

“She was play­ing re­ally well, hit­ting the balls re­ally fast and deep, mak­ing it tough for me to play my game.”

Mon­ica, from Puerto Rico, had never taken a set from Karolina, but broke her Czech ri­val four times to sweep the open­ing set.

Karolina used sev­eral ser­vice breaks of her own and served out the sec­ond set to level the match.

French Open cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza, the sev­enth seed, had slightly eas­ier time as the Spa­niard sur­vived some ner­vous mo­ments be­fore de­feat­ing Bel­gian Kirsten Flip­kens 6-2 6-3 in her open­ing round match.

The win set up a meet­ing with U.S. teenager Kayla Day, who sur­prised Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nal­ist Mir­jana Lu­cic-Ba­roni of Croa­tia in three sets 6-4 5-7 7-5.

“It was a dif­fi­cult match,” Gar­bine said post-match. “She’s very tal­ented and she can hit some crit­i­cal shots and she can be tricky.”

The Spa­niard won her third straight match against her ri­val on a hard sur­face af­ter split­ting their first four meet­ings, los­ing twice on grass.

“It’s al­ways dif­fi­cult to close out your first match,” Gar­bine said. “She’s a very tal­ented player, un­be­liev­able, with a very dif­fer­ent game. I got ner­vous!”

Kayla, 17, won the fi­nal four games of her match with the 32nd-seeded Lu­cic-Ba­roni to claim vic­tory.

“I started to re­ally be­lieve I could win at 6-5 in the third,” said Kayla. “It was still a re­ally tough game, be­cause I was a lit­tle bit tight to close it out. But my serve had been giv­ing her a lot of prob­lems, so I knew if I stuck to my game it might work out.”

Among other top-seeded play­ers, Do­minika Cibulkova of Slo­vakia and Ukrain­ian Elina Svi­tolina had the tough­est as­sign­ments.

Fifth seeded Do­minika out­lasted Lat­vian Je­lena Ostapenko 6-4 3-6 6-3 and the 10th seeded Elina needed three sets to de­feat Wang Qiang of China 3-6 6-3 7-6(3).

Rus­sian Svet­lana Kuznetsova, the eighth seed, de­feated Jo­hanna Lars­son of Swe­den 7-6(3) 6-4, and 11th seeded Jo­hanna Konta pre­vailed 6-4 6-4 over Heather Wat­son in a meet­ing of Bri­tish play­ers.

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