Karolina Pliskova continued her dominance over Garbine Muguruza by battling to an opening round robin win at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.
The Czech third seed came from a set down to beat the two-time Grand Slam champion 4-6, 6-2, 7-6. Out of the eight players who qualified, Pliskova and Muguruza are the only ones who have featured at the season-ending event before, and they served up a thriller.
Muguruza went into the match having lost eight of her last 10 meetings with Pliskova, and she went an early break of serve down, before the Spaniard found her rhythm to take control and see out the first set.
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In the second set, Pliskova again raced to a 2-0 lead, but this time she did not give up her advantage, breaking again to level at 1-1.
The third was a tighter affair, with both players exchanging breaks of serve before the match was decided with a tight tie-break, won by Pliskova 8-6 to seal victory in a little short of two and a half hours.
She joins Anett Kontaveit at the top of the Teotihuacán group, after the Estonian beat Barbora Krejcikova.
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"Honestly I think it's huge because, of course, you can relax a bit more," Pliskova said, reflecting on how important it is to start the tournament with a win.
It's not like you can lose the next match. Of course, nobody wants to lose any match. But it's like, okay, you have at least that one win, there's not such a pressure that you need to win every other match.
"If I just lose this match tonight, I think I'm gone because it was big, having couple match points, breakpoints there, I was so close to making it even before the tiebreak. Then, of course, I was quite close to also losing it."
Muguruza says the result will take some getting over, but she is confident she can get back on track: "That was a very tough match for both of us. I think it was actually one point the difference because we reached the tiebreak and I saved many match points. Man, that was a painful loss definitely.
"I fought as hard as I could. At the end it was just one point difference. I'm actually proud of the match I played due to the circumstances. I loved the crowd. Even though I suffered during this match, I also felt very energized and motivated to play in Mexico."
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