Karolina Pliskova entered the second round of the Brisbane International as a heavy favourite to win her match against the in-form qualifier Asia Muhammad. Pliskova had previously defeated Yulia Putintseva in her first round match, and Muhammad defeated wildcard Donna Vekic in her opening main draw match, capturing just her second WTA main draw win in her career.
The result turned out to be what the fans expected as Pliskova comfortably earned the well-deserved win over the American in straight sets, and was dominant on her service.
Encouraging start for Muhammad
Muhammad started the match on a positive note, jumping out to a 40-15 lead in her opening service game with some strong serves that were unreturnable. However, she showed some nerves in what could be considered the biggest match of her career, as she managed to let Pliskova come back and break her to start the match. It was not too good for Muhammad though, as her numerous unforced errors costed her the break.
It then seemed like the American would be able to break back as she went up 0-30 on the Czech’s serve, but the 2016 US Open finalist found her way back with her consistent and powerful serve, holding to consolidate the break. The 25 year-old finally got herself onto the scoreboard when she held a serve in yet another tough service game, but this time she maintained her composure to win it. Pliskova went on a run from then, winning four straight games to close out the first set, being the winner of several close games.
Tight affair in the second set
The second set was much more tighter in terms of the scoreline, with both players unable to find a breakthrough in their return games early in the set. Both players were very solid in their service games, and a break of service looked distant for both. In the fifth game, Pliskova held her service with all her points being won by serving powerful aces, her first aces of the match.
Finally, there was a break of service as Muhammad, the player with the less experience on the big stages, crumbled to the pressure at 3-4, allowing Pliskova to have the opportunity to serve for the match.
Serving for the match, the Czech showed some nerves as she threw in two double faults, gifting the break back to the American and give her a lifeline in the match. Nevertheless, Pliskova’s powerful groundstrokes managed to trouble Muhammad, who struggled to be on the defense, and put up a tough fight before going down in straight sets.
It was a good performance from Pliskova, who hit 27 winners during the whole match and converted on all 5 of her break point opportunities. However, she was also erratic during the match, when her aggressiveness often backfiring as she hit some easy shots such as a smash wide or into the net, resulting in 20 unforced errors.
The performance from the 25 year-old American was fair as she hit 12 winners but it came with 18 errors. Muhammad’s first service’s speed can be comparable with those of Pliskova’s, and if she could be more consistent, she can definitely rise in the rankings.
Next up for Pliskova
Either opponent would be a tough match-up as Pliskova has not beaten Vinci in her whole career, and lost to Doi twice in seven meetings. Her opponent would most likely be the 2015 US Open finalist, but it would still be a close affair with whichever opponents she faces.