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Pliskova rolls over first-round opponent to keep alive Grand Slam maiden title bid

Aug 31, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic hits to Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine on day one of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - First seed Karolina Pliskova got a roaring start to her bid for a maiden Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open on Monday, downing first-round opponent Anhelina Kalinina 6-4 6-0 to kick off the action in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 28-year-old Czech, who led the WTA in aces in four of the last five years, struggled with an uncharacteristically uneven serve in the first set, committing three double faults and getting only slightly more than half of her first serves in to give her unseeded opponent a fighting chance.

“I started not really great with the first game but after I was able to somehow, you know, like step in the court, was playing quite aggressive,” she said.

Pliskova, the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, did indeed find her footing in the second set, winning all her first-serve points and committing just one unforced error, as her Ukrainian opponent was left scrambling.

“I think my game was quite good for a first round,” said Pliskova, the world number three, who played in front of empty stands as the tournament is being held without fans due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“For sure I prefer to have people around me,” she added.

The match took place on an eerily quiet court, with the roar of jet engines and the rumble of the New York City subway piercing the silence. Tournament organizers piped in crowd noise to offer a taste of normality in between games and after particularly strong plays.

Pliskova, who has won 16 WTA titles, next faces unseeded Caroline Garcia of France.

“She’s very good player. She’s not seeded now. I think she should be or maybe in the future she’s going to be,” said Pliskova. “But (a) very dangerous player I think. Especially on these fast courts.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Clare Fallon

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