Serena Williams was 2-2 on the season heading into Roland Garros and in her first match on clay this year, she defeated Kristyna Pliskova, a challenging round 1 opponent, 7-6(4) 6-4.
Serena who did not get to take advantage of a protected ranking and faced the world #70 in the opening round dominated with her first serve in the opening set. A set that saw just one break point chance for either player (with Pliskova saving that chance.) Serena worked her way into the match with a strong final game that created the chance then reeled off 6 of the final 7 points of the opening set tiebreak from 0-3 down in that tiebreak to take the opening set.
Pliskova got another opening early in the second set breaking Serena’s serve for the first time in the match after a very long service game. However she was broken at 15 the next game putting the match back on even terms. Pliskova had another crack at a break in Serena’s next service game but was instead broken herself in game 5 to go down 7-6 3-2. The next 2 games saw breaks of serve traded, resulting in Serena remaining ahead 4-3, as both players serves deserted them. Serena steadied her serve to take a 5-3 lead and get towards what she hoped would be the end of the contest.
Pliskova, feeling the pressure despite a decent serving performance on the day almost lost her final service game, but was able to power through and force Serena to try to serve the match out. In the final service game Pliskova had opportunity but lacked polish on pressure points. Pliskova saved a match point and generated a trio of break point chances as Serena struggled to land a first serve from deuce. However, she couldn’t win any of them and on match point #2 Serena secured the contest in straight sets. The victory is her first Grand Slam match win since the 2017 Australian Open more than a year ago.