Defending champion Pliskova battles through in Tashkent

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Defending champion Kristyna Pliskova battled her way into the second round of the Tashkent Open at the expense of Hsieh Su-wei and second seed Timea Babos eased to an emphatic victory on Tuesday.

Pliskova claimed her only WTA singles titles at the hard-court tournament in Azerbaijan last year, but was in danger of falling at the first hurdle 12 months later before sealing a 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 win.

The top seed was broken four times and trailed 4-2 down in the final set, but rolled up her sleeves to see off the world number 95.

Pliskova suffered a first-round exit in the Korean Open when she lost to outsider Han Na-lae last week and was given a major scare by Hsieh, who was in sight of round two before losing four games in a row to bow out.

Babos, playing her first match since losing to Alison Van Uytvanck in the Coupe Banque Nationale final in Quebec, coasted to a 6-1 6-1 success over Johanna Larsson.

The Hungarian needed just shy of an hour to advance, breaking five times in a one-sided encounter.

Aleksandra Krunic, beaten by Zhang Shuai in the final of the Guangzhou Open on Saturday, saw off Richel Hogenkamp in straight sets, while 2015 champion Nao Hibino defeated Irina Khromacheva.

Tatjana Maria, Jana Cepelova, Kurumi Nara and Aryna Sabalenka also made it through.