Toronto: Pliskova cruises in first match as No.1

Published by Matt Trollope

Karolina Pliskova will face Naomi Osaka in the third round in Toronto after getting past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her first match in Toronto; Getty Images
Karolina Pliskova was joined by Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep as winners on a day the big names advanced at the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova began her Toronto campaign on the perfect note with a straight-sets win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Czech, playing in her first match since rising to the summit of the WTA rankings, recorded a 6-3 6-3 win over the Russian to set up a third-round meeting with Naomi Osaka.

The Japanese qualifier won her fourth match in a row at the Rogers Cup with a 6-3 6-4 upset of No.15 seed Anastasija Sevastova.

“I didn’t play a match since Wimbledon – after a while back on hard court, so I was not really expecting good tennis, and it was not good tennis,” she told wtatennis.com.

“I’m happy to be back even though the match was not the best. It can be better in a few more matches or in a few more days. I had good practice time, so it’s been two, three weeks when I’m playing on hard now, but still it’s different in practices and matches.

“[I had a little bit of nerves] before the match, but during the match I felt much better, especially at the end.”

FEATURE: is slamless Pliskova a legitimate No.1?

It was a largely incident-free day for the big names at the Canadian hardcourt event, with Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and finalist Venus Williams, plus second seed and defending champion all moving through to the last 16.

Yet seventh and eighth seeds Johanna Konta and Svetlana Kuznetsova weren’t so lucky.

Konta, playing her first match since her run to the Wimbledon semifinals, fell to last week’s Washington DC champion Ekaterina Makarova, despite holding two match points.

Kuznetsova fell to in-form teen CiCi Bellis, who arrived in Toronto after reaching the semifinals in Stanford last week.

Muguruza overcame Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in an entertaining all-court battle, winning 7-5 6-2; next up she’ll also face a qualifier in the form of Ash Barty.

Barty upset 16th seed Elena Vesnina in three sets and beat Muguruza in their last meeting in Birmingham.

“I never won a match here in Toronto, and I felt like I was missing too much. I felt after (I called my coach), I missed a little bit less,” Muguruza said.

“It’s not magical, but I felt like it helped a little bit, those words. I think I always have ups and downs, and what keeps me concentrated is that I train hard, and come to a tournament ready to play.

“I’m concentrating a lot on working hard, not taking anything for granted. You have all these opponents that they just want to beat you, and they’re playing well as well.”

Williams, who Muguruza beat the the Wimbledon final, won her second match of the week in Toronto – this time against Katerina Siniakova.

Siniakova recently won the WTA title in Bastad and pushed Venus with her athletic play, yet the American veteran was just a little too steady and polished, closing out a 7-5 7-5 win that featured 32 winners from her racquet.

Also advancing was Halep, a 6-4 6-3 winner over Wimbledon semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova.

The world No.2 can’t unseat Pliskova from top spot this week but could keep herself in contention for the No.1 ranking with another strong run in Canada.

Halep next faces Barbora Strycova for a place in the quarterfinals.

In other results on Wednesday, No.10 seed Agnieszka Radwanska thrashed Timea Babos 6-0 6-1 while Lucie Safarova upset 11th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-4. Caroline Garcia beat qualifier Varvara Lepchenko – who a round earlier eliminated Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko – in straight sets.

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