World number four Karolina Pliskova’s quest for a maiden WTA Finals trophy started in fine style on Sunday, with the Czech easing past 2008 champion Venus Williams in the opening match of the tournament.
Pliskova, who made her debut at the event in 2016, had been the world number one earlier this year, and despite a slight dip in form over the past few months put in an extremely impressive performance in her first match in Singapore, beating the Australian Open and Wimbledon finalist 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 12 minutes.
It was undoubtedly an impressive performance by the Czech, who dropped serve just once and was able to break Williams five times throughout the contest. Pliskova also hit 25 winners to just 12 unforced errors, compared to only 16 winners and a disappointing 19 errors from the American. Dropping just four games, the world number four is top of the White Group, with Garbine Muguruza having dropped more games in her straight sets win over Jelena Ostapenko.
Pliskova sends statement with impressive opening performance
It was undoubtedly a difficult opening match for Pliskova, who in Williams was facing the only former champion in the draw as well as the only women to reach three Grand Slam semifinals this year, though the Czech put in a highly composed performance to secure the win, and likely impress Rennae Stubbs, who is working with her this week.
It was Pliskova who got off to the best start, breaking the fifth seed early on as she eased to a 3-0 lead in just 11 minutes. Williams, however, seemingly worked her way back into the opening set as she held and then break back to get within a game of Pliskova, though the Czech broke immediately to restore her advantage. After a slight wobble, the world number four regained her composure and started to take control of the encounter as she eased through the next two games to take the opening set.
Though the scoreline may have been a tad harsh on Williams, the American was unable to take some opportunities presented to her, and that would prove crucial early in the second set; the 2008 champion missed multiple break points on Pliskova’s serve at 1-1, and was then broken herself with the Czech easing to a 4-1 lead. Pliskova was now looking extremely comfortable and later held comfortably to build a 5-2 lead and put herself just a game away from victory. Serving to stay in the encounter, the American showed some fight as she saved three consecutive match points, though could not save a fifth as Pliskova broke once again to seal a strong win.
Pliskova and Williams will be in action again on Tuesday, with the Czech facing Muguruza and Williams taking on Ostapenko in the second round of Round Robin matches.