(Reuters) - Former world number one Karolina Pliskova overcame unseeded Varvara Lepchenko 6-2 6-7(3) 6-3 in her opening-round match at the Tianjin Open on Monday.
The 26-year-old Pliskova, who took a wildcard entry into the tournament as she aims to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore, eased through the first set but Lepchenko’s aggressive forehand caused her problems in the second and the American won the tiebreaker to force a decider.
Lepchenko saved five match points on the back of some powerful groundstrokes but a solid first serve clinched Czech Pliskova’s win after two-and-a-half hours.
Top seed Pliskova will next face Slovenian Polona Hercog, who beat Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena 7-6(5) 6-2.
Pliskova is chasing one of the three available spots in the WTA Finals, along with fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens.