Fourth-seeded Czech Kristyna Pliskova overcame Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen in straight sets to advance to the second round of the Japan Women’s Open on Monday.
Pliskova, who took a wild card and came to the $250,000 hardcourt tournament at the last minute, reeled off 14 aces in hot and windy conditions at Ariake Tennis Forest Park en route to a 7-5, 7-5 victory.
“I was a bit nervous because it was a bit windy today,” said Pliskova, who holds the record for the most aces (31) in a match on the WTA tour. “My serve was working today so it helped.
“I was struggling a bit and was sick when I was at home. It’s always tough after a Grand Slam,” said the 25-year old world No. 41, who lost to Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in the second round of the U.S. Open.
“You don’t know how you would feel. So I said to myself if I get a wild card I’d definitely go (to Tokyo). I need some matches. I’m happy to be here.”
Pliskova will play either Nao Hibino or Miyu Kato in the next round.
“If Hibino wins — I think she is the favorite of the two — I have played her two or three times and I know her so I have some plans,” she said.
Misa Eguchi, the only Japanese player in action Monday in the main singles draw, battled gamely in the first set but fell at the first hurdle, going down 7-5, 6-2 to China’s Han Xinyun.
“I was a bit nervous at the start and the errors started to pile up,” said world No. 494 Eguchi, who battled from 4-0 down in the first set before Han took control once again at 5-5.
“I lost the first set but I thought I was the better player in the second half of it. I wanted to lead at the start of the second set but it went the same way as the first.
“I think that is something I will be able to change the more games I play,” added Eguchi, who returned to action in May from a knee injury sustained in September last year.
In other first-round matches, Belgian third seed Elise Mertens beat Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, China’s Wang Qiang was a 7-5, 6-2 winner against Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Slovak Jana Cepelova won 6-3, 1-0 against Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who retired in the second set.
Seventh seed Alison Riske won an all-American battle against Madison Brengle 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
In singles qualifying matches involving Japanese players, Kato defeated Magdalena Frech of Poland 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), but Miharu Imanishi missed out on a place in the main draw after going down 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.
In the doubles first round, Japanese pair Erina Hayashi and Momoko Kobori were beaten 6-2, 6-0 by Australians Monique Adamczak and Storm Sanders, while top seeds Makoto Ninomiya of Japan and Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic beat Japan’s Misaki Doi and Taiwan’s Chuang Chia-jung 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 11-9.