Karolina Pliskova managed to edge through to the fourth round of the Miami Open after defeating Yulia Putintseva in two very tight sets, with the Czech setting up a meeting with compatriot Barbora Strycova there.
Pliskova overcomes early deficit and tough resistance of Putintseva
Putintseva had a fast start to the match as she shockingly broke serve in the opening game of the match, winning all four points in Pliskova’s opening service game to take the early lead. Putintseva’s amazing start then continued in her own opening service game as she held her serve to love, winning the first eight points of the match.
The Kazakhstani originally had the golden opportunity to have a double break lead when she earned a 15-30 lead in the next game, but Pliskova stepped up her game at the most crucial moment to come back from the brink and secure her first game of the day, getting herself onto the scoreboard. Putintseva would rue her missed opportunity as she was broken immediately in the next game, allowing Pliskova to return level on serve.
From then on, it seemed as if both players were inseparable as neither of them was able to find a breakthrough in their return games, with seven consecutive holds of serve which followed that break of serve. These seven games saw Putintseva saving three set points in the process, having served to stay in the set at 4-5 down.
The Kazakhstani was able to deal with the pressure well and fended off the strong returns of Pliskova, narrowly holding onto her service game to stay in the set. However, the next golden opportunity to break serve once again came in Putintseva’s service game, once again when the Kazakhstani was serving to stay in the set. There, she managed to fend off another massive amount of five set points to give herself a lifeline but faltered at the last moment as her efforts to come from 0-40 went down in vain after Pliskova finally closed out the set on her ninth set point with a smash winner.
Pliskova edges through
Play was then suspended due to a lengthy rain delay which lasted over three hours at the start of the second set, but the delay did not seem to affect both players as it was much of a similar story as compared to the first set when play resumed. Both players were still comfortably holding their serves and a break of serve seemed to be a long way ahead of us, but surprisingly one of them came just in the sixth game of the set when Putintseva played a very sloppy service game as Pliskova punished those slow and vulnerable serves by coming up with several strong returns to disrupt Putintseva’s rhythm.
Soon finding herself down 2-5 in the set and being just one game away from defeat, Putintseva showed some great fighting spirit and tough mental strength when she managed to hold her serve to stay in the match for at least one more game, forcing Pliskova to try and serve the match out herself. Despite managing to get to 30-30 while Pliskova was serving for the match, Putintseva failed to win the most crucial point there as she was a victim of the merciless Pliskova offense, giving her the first match point of the night. The Czech did not disappoint, eventually closing the match out after exactly 100 minutes with some world-class offensive tennis once again.