Ekaterina Makarova continued her dominance over world number eight Karolina Pliskova with another impressive win in their blockbuster opening-round clash at the 2018 Connecticut Open. The Russian, playing with confidence and finding her groove throughout the match, was simply firing on all cylinders and was performing on an exceptional level to triumph with the commanding 6-1, 6-3 scoreline after a quick 58 minutes of play, setting up an interesting battle against Magdalena Rybarikova, who is another of Pliskova’s nemesis, in the second round.
Pliskova’s serve, which has not looked at its best throughout the year, was the liability of her game as she put in just 48 percent of her first serves while also hitting 21 unforced errors. Her explosive game went haywire in the first-round match, finding just 14 winners as she failed to convert any break points in the encounter.
Whereas, Makarova’s display was exceptionally impressive as she managed to outhit the Czech by blasting 22 winners and committing just 15 unforced errors in the 58-minute affair. This is Makarova’s third top-10 win of 2018 (after Ostapenko and Wozniacki) and the Russian continues living up to her giant-killing tag as the former top-10 player looks to carry her good form into the US Open as well.
Makarova rattles off six consecutive games
It was the perfect start for Pliskova, who received a wildcard into this tournament. The former top-ranked player desperately needs more match time and confidence entering the final Major event of the year after a relatively disappointing year but was given an extremely tough opening-round opponent here in New Haven. Ironically, the best possible start proved to be just the start of her demise.
Makarova overcame her early nerves and a slow start, putting in a solid service game of her own. However, Pliskova started to spray an abundance of unforced errors, particularly off her shaky forehand wing as she gifted the first break to the dangerous Russian in the third game. Makarova capitalized on the advantage and was consistently finding her first serves, not missing any of them until the sixth game.
Within a blink of an eye, Makarova claimed 10 consecutive points which allowed her to jump towards an assertive 4-1 lead quickly. The world number 49’s lefty advantage on her serves worked well against the poor-moving Pliskova, who could not find her feet at all.
Serving to stay in the set being 1-5 down, the Czech astonishingly lost her 10th straight point on her serve as she double-faulted on Makarova’s first set point, allowing the former world number eight to take the opening set 6-1 after 21 minutes of play.
Makarova closes out the huge win
Makarova continued to ride on her momentum and started the second set with yet another confident service hold. Pliskova was unable to find any solutions to the Russian’s invincible lefty serves but stopped the rout of losing seven consecutive games with some excellent net coverage.
For the first time in the match, Makarova was threatened in her service game as she was forced to face three break points. On these three occasions, she held her nerves and impressively fired three unreturnable serves from the advantage court, erasing Pliskova’s only break points of the match.
Seven straight holds of serve kicked off proceedings in the second set and the lone break of serve came at the eleventh hour in the eighth game. Makarova’s forehands were becoming a huge weapon in her game as Pliskova could not handle the pace and consistency of the Russian’s game.
Makarova ultimately broke serve and earned the golden opportunity to serve out the match at 5-3 up. She had to retrieve from a 0-30 deficit before three straight unreturned serves sealed the deal for the unseeded player.