World no. 3 Karolina Pliskova is off to a winning start in Dubai, beating a qualifier Kristina Pliskova 6-1, 6-2 in 67 minutes. The Czech made a perfect start of the season in Brisbane, claiming her 16th WTA title before another disappointing run at Majors in Melbourne where she reached the semi-final a year ago.
Ready to bounce back in Dubai, Karolina toppled Mladenovic for the fourth time in six encounters, struggling to find the first serve but never facing a break point. With eight double faults and poor performance on both the first and second serve, Mladenovic couldn't match those numbers, getting broken four times to trail fro start to finish and push the Czech into the last 16.
Karolina landed a forehand winner in the first game for a promising start, securing a break in game two and opening a 5-1 advantage with a deep return that Kristina failed to control. The French player netted a backhand in the next game to fall 6-1 behind in just over 30 minutes, with Pliskova securing another break at the beginning of the second set to move closer to the finish line.
The better-ranked opponent clinched another break in the seventh game and sealed the deal with a service winner in the next game to advance into the second round. "It's been changing, getting better with the years," Pliskova said.
"I think the players are getting better as well. Feeling better about yourself doesn't guarantee anything, not even one victory in the opening round. I also think you need to be lucky at times, with a favorable draw in front of you.
There are plenty of things which need to be there in those two weeks. I think I'm feeling better about myself and my game too. We will see. I think the score against Mladenovic is a little bit easier than it was. I think we had a couple of tough games but I had the entire match under my control."