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Pliskova begins number one reign with ragged win
August 9, 2017 / 6:00 PM / 4 months ago

Pliskova begins number one reign with ragged win

TORONTO (Reuters) - Karolina Pliskova began her reign as world number one with a ragged 6-3 6-3 second round win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on a blockbuster Wednesday when eight of the top 10 ranked players were in action at the Rogers Cup.

Aug 9, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic plays a shot against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia (not pictured) during the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Pliskova, playing in her first tournament since her shock second round defeat at Wimbledon, struggled with a misfiring first serve and was guilty of some lapses in concentration.

However, the lanky Czech was never seriously threatened as she disposed her 19th ranked Russian opponent in a tidy 70 minutes.

“I had a little bit (of nerves) before the match but during the match I felt much better especially at the end,” Pliskova said in a courtside interview.

”I think it was not the best tennis from my side but I was trying to improve in the match.

“I‘m definitely happy I am through to the next round, the first match is always tough.”

Both sets followed a similar pattern, Pliskova surging to a 5-1 lead in the first and 3-0 in second. A loss of focus allowed Pavlyuchenkova to break and hold serve to trim the deficits.

Aug 9, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic plays a shot against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia (not pictured) during the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

But Pliskova snapped out of her brief funks each time and clinched her first win as number one with her seventh break.

A star-studded day on centre court began with fourth-ranked Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza taming Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.

Second seed Simona Halep took care of surprise Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova with a relatively straightforward 6-3 6-4 win, while third seed German Angelique Kerber outlasted Donna Vekic 6-4 7-6(5).

Slideshow (4 Images)

American Venus Williams, playing in her first tournament since reaching the final at Wimbledon, again had to battle to advance as she defeated 21-year-old Katerina Siniakova 7-5 7-5. Williams overpowered her Czech opponent with 12 aces and shrugged off several wasted break points after she converted just four of her 13 chances. The 37-year-old will next face Elina Svitolina.

American teenager Catherine Bellis continued her brilliant form on the North American hardcourts by taking down eighth seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 7-5 to reach the third round.

The 18-year-old arrived in Toronto after reaching the semi-finals in Stanford last week.

Kuznetsova departed along with her 16th seeded compatriot Elena Vesnina, who suffered a 6-3 5-7 6-4 loss to Australian qualifier Ashleigh Barty, while Czech Lucie Safarova overcame 11th seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-4.

In another upset, British seventh seed Johanna Konta was worn down by last week’s Citi Open champion Ekaterina Makarova 5-7 7-6(4) 6-3. Tenth seed Agnieszka Radwanska cruised easily past Timea Babos 6-0 6-1, while Petra Kvitova was eliminated by Sloane Stephens 7-6(4) 3-6 6-2.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by John O'Brien

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