Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic hits a backhand on her way to defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in Rogers Cup tennis action in Toronto on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

New No. 1 Pliskova opens with second-round win in Toronto

TORONTO — Karolina Pliskova began her run as world No. 1 on a positive note, beating Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the third round of the Rogers Cup.

The 25-year-old Czech, who had a first-round bye, extended her winning streak over the 19th-ranked player to five matches. She earned the No. 1 ranking when Johanna Konta beat Romania’s Simona Halep in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

“I had a little bit (of nerves) before my match because I really wanted to win this one,” Pliskova said. “Also, I knew I have a good record against her. So I just knew if I play solid and OK I can win it.”

Halep, now ranked second and the defending Rogers Cup champion, played the late match against Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova.

In other second-round play, ninth seed Venus Williams earned her second career win in Toronto, a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Katerina Siniakova. Williams, the runner-up at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, hadn’t won in the Canadian city until she beat Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round on Monday.

“It was well-earned. I had to wait a long time for win No. 2,” Williams said. “So I would like to build on that to win No. 3.”

Pliskova, who broke Pavlyuchenkova seven times over the 72-minute match, said that being the top player in the world didn’t make her feel any different before it started.

“I was not really thinking about this,” she said.

“I think some moments (of the match) were OK, but otherwise the serve was not great and overall I was not real happy with my game today. But it was enough and so another chance tomorrow to improve.”

Pliskova will play Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the third round. The 50th-ranked Osaka upset No. 16 Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-4.

In another upset, American teenager CiCi Bellis downed eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-5. Bellis won 74 per cent (39 of 53) of her first-service points and broke the 32-year-old Russian three times.

The 18-year-old Bellis, ranked 36th in the world, broke Kuznetsova in the first game of the first set and twice more in the second, including in a crucial 11th game that gave her a 6-5 lead.

“I think I played really well today,” Bellis said following the second career win against a top-10 opponent. “Obviously I told myself I had to because she’s unbelievable.”

Bellis will face France’s Caroline Garcia, who defeated American qualifier Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-4, in the third round.

Wimbledon champion and fourth seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain moved on with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens.

Muguruza will next play Australian qualifier Ashleigh Barty, who upset 16th-seeded Elena Vesnina 6-3, 5-7,6-4 to advance.

Agnieska Radwanska topped Timea Babos and Lucie Safarova moved on with a win over Dominika Cibulkova.

Later Wednesday, third-seeded Angelique Kerber played Croatian qualifier Donna Vekic, who beat Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in the first round. Konta played Ekaterina Makarova, and Petra Kvitova faced Sloane Stephens.

Just Posted

Unemployment rate and EI beneficiaries down in Central Alberta

The unemployment rate for Red Deer region and the number of people… Continue reading

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month