SINGAPORE (Reuters) - After failing to navigate her way out of the group phase on her WTA Finals debut in 2016, Karolina Pliskova was desperate to get off to a fast start this year and that is exactly what the Czech world number three managed against Venus Williams on Sunday.
Opening round-robin play in the White Group at a packed Singapore Indoor Stadium, Pliskova used her booming serve and groundstrokes to subdue her American opponent 6-2 6-2 with an emphatic display of power.
“I was feeling so much better than last year, so I cannot compare those matches, not even a little bit,” the 25-year-old told reporters.
”I had a good week of practise here, so I felt like it can be okay. But I just wasn’t sure about how I‘m going to feel, if nervous or not, because still we are the first match on.
“But I felt pretty good. Actually, I felt really good. I think everything was fine with my game today. I was just a little bit better, even from the baseline, even on my service games, so there was no need to panic with anything in my game.”
After reaching two grand slam finals this past season, the 37-year-old Williams was making her first appearance since 2009 at the elite eight-woman event and Pliskova felt the previous experience of the Singapore court had helped her cause.
“I had quite an advantage from the fact that she was not playing for the last few years in WTA Finals, so I felt like a little bit more calm on the court than maybe she was,” the Czech added.
”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 and had some good practise this year.
“I felt pretty confident. Even though we had two tough matches against each other and was just 1-1 head-to-head, I always felt like I had a good chance to win.”
The American rued the fact that she made a slow start to the match, needing four games to get on the scoreboard, but was optimistic she would fare better in her final two round-robin matches against Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko.
“I played better in the second set but she just seemed to have all the answers,” Williams said. “You know, some days that’s how it is. Hopefully I will have more luck in the next ones.”
Editing by Clare Fallon