WTA Stuttgart: Karolina Pliskova overcomes battling Lucie Safarova in three sets
Photo: Jimmie48 Photography/ @JJlovesTennis

It was a battle of the Czechs in this first round clash in Stuttgart. Karolina Pliskova came into the match with a narrow lead in the head to head against Lucie Safarova.

The 24-year old won two out of three of the matches between the pair, giving her a slight edge coming into the match today. After just over two and a half hours, Pliskova increased her lead in the head to head as she defeated her compatriot in three sets.

Tie breaker needed to decide set

Pliskova served first in the match and got off to a good start, as she strongly held her service game. Safarova then stepped up to the service line and responded with a strong hold of her own. Both players looked very comfortable whilst serving, with neither player losing more than one point up until the sixth game of the set.

In the sixth game of the set, the first break point opportunity arose. Safarova's serving slightly dipped, which gave Pliskova a chance to put herself up a break in the set. Unfortunately for Pliskova, Safarova fought off the opportunity before going on to win the game, keeping the set on serve.

Normality was quickly resumed, as Pliskova and Safarova both held their next service game to love. With the two Czechs holding their service for the remaining few games in the set, the score was soon at 6-6, meaning a tie break was required to decide who would take the lead in the match.

Pliskova found herself 3-0 up in the tie break as she picked up a point off of her serve before winning two points on Safarova's serve. Safarova battled back and got the two points she dropped during her service back. With the score at 3-2, Safarova lost another point whilst she was serving to gift Pliskova a 4-2 lead.

From here the tie break was soon back level with Safarova winning the next two points. Unfortunately for the older of the two players, her comeback was short lived, as Pliskova found a way to halt her momentum. After some strong play, Pliskova won three points in a row to take the set and tie break on the first time of asking.

Lucie Safarova Mid Rally. Photo: Jimmie48 Photography/ @JJlovesTennis
Lucie Safarova Mid Rally. Photo: Jimmie48 Photography/ @JJlovesTennis

Safarova bounces back

With the disappointment of losing the first set playing on her mind, Safarova started the second set in the best possible way. The 29-year-old comfortably held her opening service game to love to ease any frustration she may have had after losing the first set.

No break point opportunities were seen until the fourth game. Safarova had three chances to break Pliskova, however, each time Pliskova fought off the chances with some big hitting. After saving the break point chances, Pliskova found a way to win the game and keep the set on serve.

Both players held their serve over the next three games, before the first break of the match came around in the eighth game. Safarova worked herself into a position to break Pliskova and this time around she did not faulter. The 29-year-old took the opportunity and put herself in a commanding position in the set.

Unfortunately for Safarova, the lead she had did not last long. The world number 15 could not consolidate the break of serve, as Pliskova fought to put the score level once again. Pliskova made the most of her first break point of the set and some shaky serving from Safarova to win the game and put the set back on serve.

In the tenth game of the set, Safarova worked her way into a position where could take the second set. The 29- year-old battled back from 40-15 down to give herself a break and set point opportunity. Despite Pliskova's best efforts she could do nothing to prevent her compatriot from taking the opportunity on the first time of asking.

Karolina Pliskova Shows Her Disappointment. Photo: Jimmie48 Photography/ @JJlovesTennis
Karolina Pliskova Shows Her Disappointment. Photo: Jimmie48 Photography/ @JJlovesTennis

 Pliskova wins battle of the breaks

The third set was very different to the previous two. After managing to hold Pliskova off to win her service game, Safarova found herself with two opportunites to break in the second game. Pliskova fought off both of the break point opportunities before eventually holding her serve to keep the score level in the set.

Safarova got the upper hand in the set, as she broke Pliskova in the fourth game of the set. The 29-year-old raced to a 40-0 lead in the game, and despite Pliskova preventing her from taking two of the break point chances, Safarova found a way to capitalize on the third opportunity to put herself ahead in the decisive final set.

Once again, Safarova failed to consolidate the break. The 29-year-old could not do anything to stop Pliskova from making the most of her first break point opportunity in the set and putting the set back on serve. Pliskova backed up the break with a comfortable hold of serve, to level the score at 3-3.

In the seventh game, Pliskova took control of the set. The world number eighteen made the most of her big hitting to break Safarova and take a lead in the set, on the first time of asking. Pliskova then consolidated the break of serve once again. The 24-year-old utilized her serve to full effect to race through her service game and put herself in a strong position in the set.

Safarova needed to hold her service to keep herself in the match. This looked unlikely as she quickly found herself 40-0 down. However, Safarova's battling spirit shone through as she fought off all three of Pliskova's match point opportunities. After a tough battle in the game, Safarova found a way to stem Pliskova's momentum and hold her service.

Pliskova had the opportunity to serve for the match in the tenth game. Things did not go well for Pliskova, as Safarova used the confidence she had from winning the previous game to break her compatriot and level the score in the set. Unfortunately for Safarova, her comeback was short lived as she once again failed to consolidate the break. Pliskova once again out hit Safarova to pick up the break and give herself another chance to serve for the match.

This time around the 24-year-old did not faulter when serving the set out. Pliskova raced to a 40-15 lead in the game but Safarova was not willing to let her take the match that easily. Safarova fought back to deuce but in the end Pliskova was just too strong and she took the match on the sixth time of asking.

After a two and a half hour battle, it was Pliskova who picked up the victory. Pliskova will now face Ana Ivanovic in the second round.

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