World number three Karolina Pliskova believes her experience playing on the Singapore Indoor Stadium’s slower court was the catalyst for a crushing straight sets victory over Venus Williams on Sunday.
Pliskova, playing in her second consecutive WTA Finals, overwhelmed a sluggish Williams from the get-go to record a 6-2, 6-2 victory in a one-sided match lasting just one hour and 13 minutes.
Williams was making her debut in Singapore after reaching the WTA Finals for the first time since 2009, when it was played in Doha.
Even though she did not make it out of the group stage a year ago, the Czech said the experience helped enormously.
“I think I had quite an advantage from that she (Williams) was not playing for the last few years in WTA finals,” Pliskova told reporters after the match.
“I don’t know how she felt but I think I was trying to take that advantage that I was here last year.”
Opening the tournament, which fields the top eight players, Pliskova — playing her first match under the guidance of new coach Rennae Stubbs — showcased her heavy artillery.
It was a much-needed confidence boost for the 25-year-old, who slipped in the rankings after being crowned world number one in July.
But the match was an anti-climax for Williams and an early blow to the 37-year-old’s bid to be crowned the world’s number one for the first time in 15 years.
Williams said she was confident of rebounding from the defeat. “Yeah, I have been in this position before,” she said. “So I will be back on Tuesday. I felt like I returned well today. I just didn’t execute as well during the point.”
Even though both players are notable servers, there were four breaks of serve in the first set and Pliskova captured three of them.
Pliskova started the match in trademark fashion with an ace and showed her proficiency in returning by breaking Williams in the second game to gain an early stranglehold.
In just her second tournament since the US Open, Williams struggled to dust off the cobwebs. Her error-strewn first set was marred by nine unforced errors and three double faults.
Williams appeared to be finding her groove early in the second set when she had two chances to break. But Pliskova had all the answers and ran out a comfortable winner.