Pliskova handles Hsieh challenge to equal best Wimbledon showing

Pliskova handles Hsieh challenge to equal best Wimbledon showing

The Czech fired 14 aces to reach the round of 16 for the second consecutive year.

Third-seeded Karolina Pliskova is back in the second week of Wimbledon after handling a stiff challenge from Su-Wei Hsieh, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, to move into the business end of the tournament on Friday.

Pliskova had lost to Hsieh in the Dubai quarterfinals earlier this year. The Czech, who won her third title of the year at Eastbourne last week, is looking to advance past the fourth round of the grass-court major for the first time in her career.

Against Hsieh, the 27-year-old took the opening set after getting the first break of the match in the eighth game. The 33-year-old Taiwanese answered back, employing her scrappy game to rattle Pliskova. That worked as she broke twice to level the match. In the decider, however, it was the 6’1” world No. 3 who drew the first blood and never looked back, closing it out in a three-setter. 

"I think I did quite good. Of course, the second set was not the best, not as I wanted to have it," said Pliskova. "I think I was just too good on the serve. I had a lot of aces. Pretty much all of the service games also in the third set were quite easy. There was not that much trouble.

"I think that's what I did better, of course, compared to last matches what I played her. But of course, tricky, especially on grass. She can make you feel ugly, which I felt at some points. Of course, happy that I'm through."

The 2016 US Open finalist is in the hunt to unseat Ashleigh Barty at the top of the WTA rankings. Pliskova needs to get to the semifinals to have a shot at returning to No. 1, though if Barty wins her third-round match, Pliskova's minimum requirement would shift to reaching the final. Also in the hunt are Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova, who must win the title to take over for the first time. Kvitova will be eliminated from contention if Barty advances Saturday.

Pliskova will aim to inch closer on Monday when she faces countrywoman Karolína Muchova, who upset 20th-seeded Anett Kontaveit, 7-6 (7), 6-3. Pliskova won their only previous meeting in the first round of the Australian Open in January.