Pliskova beats Azarenka to reach third round for first time

Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova celebrates winning the second round match against Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka. (Reuters pic)

LONDON: Seventh seed Karolina Pliskova won a battle of former world number ones as she beat Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-3 to reach the third round at Wimbledon for the first time on Wednesday.

Big-serving Czech Pliskova reached the top of the rankings a year ago at Wimbledon despite losing in the second round — the fifth year in succession she had lasted only two matches.

From the moment Azarenka dropped serve with a loose error in the third game, Pliskova always looked likely to break that sequence against the Belarussian who is still trying to rediscover her past form after returning from having a baby.

Azarenka tried to fire herself up when she resisted some pressure to hold serve at the start of the second set.

But Pliskova broke for a 5-3 lead and was then helped by two Azarenka double faults that brought groans from the sedate crowd who had been hoping for something more exciting.

“I think I was pretty solid today, I think I was really strong on my serve which was really important,” the 26-year-old Pliskova said after walking off court.

“Very happy with my victory as it is the first time I am in the third round here. The last few years I was waiting for a good result and it still didn’t come, maybe this year is the time; I am feeling great.”

She will play Romanian 28th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu next.