Pliskova, Kerber into second-round in Stuttgart

Stuttgart (Germany) (AFP) –

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Former world number ones Karolona Pliskova and Angelique Kerber came through their first-round matches in Stuttgart on Wednesday with differing experiences as both played their first clay-court matches this season.

Pliskova, 29, had to dig deep after losing the second set to German Tamara Korpatsch before sealing a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

The Czech Republic star, currently ninth in the world, admitted struggling before setting up a second-round match against Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday.

"I'm super happy that I'm through, but other than that I didn’t see many really good things," said Pliskova.

"I was struggling a bit in the rally. I thought there were too many errors from easy balls, but my serve was quite ok.

"First rounds are always a bit nervous, especially a first match on clay.

"I’m just going to hope it’s going to be better."

Pliskova is on course to meet world number one Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Barty, the top seed, makes her first appearance later against former Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund in their second round tie.

Earlier, three-time Grand Slam winner Kerber breezed into the second round, sweeping aside Georgia's Ekaterine Gorgodze in a 6-2, 6-2 victory.

"That wasn't a bad way to start the clay-court season, she wasn't an easy opponent and I had a solid game," said Germany's Kerber.

The 33-year-old, who has dropped to 26 in the world rankings, expects a "tough match" on Thursday against fourth-seed Ukranian Elina Svitolina, who has won all of their last six meetings.