Karolina Pliskova began her WTA Finals campaign with an impressive 6-2, 6-2 victory over 2008 winner Venus Williams in Singapore in just 72 minutes.
The Czech, playing the year-end championships for the second time, was solid and steady from the start, only dropping serve once against the Australian Open and Wimbledon finalist.
Pliskova serves notice with dominant first victory
The Czech jumped to an immediate lead, breaking Williams in the second game of the match. After trailing 40-15 on the American's serve, she held a break point, but netted a backhand. Given a second chance, a long forehand exchange ended with a thumper from the former world number one from that wing to force an error. After a hold, she was ahead 3-0 in just 11 minutes.
Williams, the only woman to reach three Grand Slam semifinals this year, held and then was back on serve after Pliskova double faulted. The momentum didn't last long as the 2016 U.S. Open broke the 37-year old twice more, sandwiching a hold in between to take the opening set in 32 minutes after a backhand error from Williams.
Missed opportunities for Williams
The second set was especially frustrating for the legend as she was finally able to work her way into Pliskova's service games, holding two break points at 1-1. The Czech swatted away the first with a smooth volley and erased the second with an ace out wide. Any early momentum Williams could have built was gone and it cost her.
Facing 15-40 on her serve, the American was able to extract an error from Pliskova on the first break chance, but her own backhand flew wide on the second and the world number four was ahead 3-1. With little effort, Pliskova was ahead 5-2 and closed out the win in style, breaking to cap off a most impressive start to her championship.
Pliskova happy with her effort
After firing 25 winners and committing just 12 unforced errors, the Czech said "everything was fine with my game today" and with her confidence surely high, she thought “I think I was just little bit better today, even from the baseline, even on my service games, so there was no need to panic with anything in my game.”
The courts in Singapore are notorious for being slow, something Williams had to encounter for the first time having not made the year-end championships since 2009, when it was in a different location.
For Pliskova, combining that with the fact she played here last year gave her what she felt was an edge, stating “I think I had quite advantage from that she was not playing for last few years in WTA Finals, so I felt like a little bit more calm on the court than maybe she was. I don't know how she felt, but I think I was trying to take that advantage that I was here last year, you know, that I had some matches, I had some good practices this year"