By Martyn Herman
EASTBOURNE (Reuters) – Second seed Karolina Pliskova was just happy not to have her twin sister on the other side of the net as she made a winning start at the Eastbourne championships on Monday.
The former world number one, given a bye in the opening round, booked her spot in the last 16 with a straightforward 6-3 6-3 defeat of Margarita Gasparyan on the Devonshire Park grass.
It was her first match since losing a three-set thriller to 112th-ranked Kristyna in Birmingham last week in what was the first main Tour meeting between the Czech 27-year-olds.
“I didn’t really enjoy myself if I compare my match today and the match with Kristyna,” the big-serving world number three who will be one of the fancied players at next week’s Wimbledon championships, told reporters.
“It’s totally different feeling if you play somebody, you know, not from your family. I didn’t enjoy the match at all, not even for a while. But on the other hand, I’m just happy that it happened, because it can happen in the future and it’s gonna happen for sure again somewhere.
“So I think it’s good that it’s behind us.”
Pliskova, champion at Eastbourne in 2017 but still awaiting her first Grand Slam title, will face either Elise Mertens or fellow Czech Marketa Vondrousova for a place in the quarter-finals.
Teenager Vondrousova was playing her first match since the French Open final in which she was beaten by Ashleigh Barty.
The 13th seed beat China’s Saisai Zheng 6-2 6-3 for her first Tour level victory on grass — a surface she admits is still something of a puzzle.
“You have to be more aggressive on grass and have a high first serve percentage,” Vondrousova, whose game is perfect for the slower claycourts, told Reuters.
Not that she will put the drop shot back in the box though, the shot she used to such devastating effect during her run to the final at Roland Garros.
“I think I tried five today and made two so we’ll see,” she said. “It’s about using more slice.”
Former French Open champion and last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Jelena Ostapenko won the last four games in each set to beat Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4 6-4 and set up a clash with American Sloane Stephens.
Top seed Barty, who on Monday was unveiled as the new world number one, withdrew with an arm injury although she is confident she will recover in time for the start of Wimbledon on July 1.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)