Tennis: Karolina Pliskova beats defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, Svitolina also victorious over Kvitova

Karolina Pliskova celebrates after defeating defending WTA Finals champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in their opening match of the 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global on Oct 21, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS
Elina Svitolina celebrates after winning her match against Petra Kvitova during their round robin singles match of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals 2018 at the Indoor Stadium on Oct 21, 2018. PHOTO: EPA - EFE

SINGAPORE - Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki lost 6-2, 6-4 to Karolina Pliskova in her first match of the 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Sunday (Oct 21).

Pliskova, who played with her right calf bandaged at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, broke serve for the first time to lead 2-1. The Czech dominated the game, sending Wozniacki running from left to right and took the first set 6-2.

The second set was a closer affair, though Pliskova broke serve to start after consulting her coach Rennae Stubbs at the changeover. She then fended off two break points and survived four deuces to extend her lead to 2-0 in the second set. But her Danish opponent held strong, saving two match points before Pliskova closed out the match with an ace.

Pliskova, 26, had trailed their head-to-head 3-6 entering the tournament. The pair last faced each other at last year's WTA Finals, where the 28-year-old Wozniacki defeated Pliskova in straight sets.

"(It's) always tough matches against Caroline. The last time we played it was here and I remember that first set, I had some set points so I just believed I had a chance because it was a very good match last year and I tried my best today," said Pliskova.

"I felt pretty good from the baseline today, so it's not only about my serve but (overall) the game was pretty solid from my side. I think she started a little bit nervous. It's always tough to defend the title for everybody so I'm just happy with my performance today."

In the earlier match on Sunday, Ukraine's Elina Svitolina beat 2011 WTA Finals champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3. The world No.7 Ukrainian had not beaten the world No.5 Petra Kvitova from the Czech Republic since 2014. In fact in seven subsequent losses to Kvitova, Svitolina had won just a single set.

The Ukrainian, who broke in the very first game of the match, was steady while Kvitova was erratic. The Czech hit the better shots but made the worse errors. Both players, who are in the White Group, have two more round-robin matches each.

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