Karolina Pliskova and Christina Mchale met in the second round at the Mutua Madrid Open. Mchale was looking to improve her best record here in Madrid having reached the second round at most in the past four years. Pliskova too has not gone past the second round here since entering the main draw.
It was a topsy turvy first set which went to a tiebreak before Mchale stamped her authority to grab the set. The second set was a much closer affair, and the Czech eventually buckled when serving to stay in the match as Mchale went on to record an impressive 7-6(3), 6-4 win, knocking out the 13th seed.
Topsy turvy first set which Mchale takes control in the tiebreak
Playing with the sun on her side, Mchale got her first break opportunity after Pliskova sent her shot long. Even though the Czech was able to save it, she was under pressure again after Mchale came out on top in an enticing rally. A subsequent error handed Mchale the break and the first game of the match. It was a slow start by the Czech who had trouble getting her first serves going, but hung on to hold for 1-2.
The pair started exchanging long rallies and it was the American who was winning most of them as she held her lead for 3-1. Despite not finding her groove yet in the match, Pliskova kept herself within touching distance of Mchale. Both players have big weapons in their forehands and it was the American who was making the most of it hammering winners off that side to extend her lead to 4-2.
The Czech had her first love hold in the seventh game, keeping the deficit to one game. She was rewarded with her first break chance after some patient build up and capitalized to break and level the set 4-4. The American kept the pressure on, though, and broke immediately to regain the lead. Serving for the set, there was yet another twist, as Mchale failed to close it out as Pliskova found the break once more.
Pliskova edged for the first time in the set holding her serve for 6-5 forcing Mchale to serve to stay in the set. Under pressure once again, the American handed the Czech set point. Mchale though fended off Pliskova’s efforts to bring the set to a tiebreak.
Mchale was first to draw blood, winning the first point, but immediately gave the lead away with an error. Despite that slip up, it was the American who was pulling away with the lead, growing in confidence with each point. She swiftly set up four set points with another forehand winner to lead 6-2 before sealing the set 7-6(3).
Close set decided by a crucial break right at the end
Pliskova got off to the best start possible by breaking right at the beginning of the second set. However, it went to waste as she allowed Mchale to get the break back right away. The Czech was in trouble again in the fourth game, but used her huge serves to get herself out of trouble to level for 2-2.
Both players tightened up their game as the match progressed on serve. Pliskova created another chance in the crucial ninth game. Again, the American survived for an important hold to edge 5-4 on serve. Serving to stay in the match, the pressure got to the Czech as she faced match point after a wild shot and Mchale fired a mean forehand to seal a big victory.
Pliskova won in the service department, getting in 78 percent of her first serves whereas Mchale managed just 65 percent.
It was pretty even on the winners-errors count as the big-hitting Czech got in 22 winners to Mchale’s decent 18. In the end her errors were her undoing as Pliskova fired 31 unforced errors while the American made 18 of her own.