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Plucky Pliskova says ‘ready to battle the best again’

Plucky Pliskova says ‘ready to battle the best again’

Vinay Nayudu
Doha
Life for a pro on the tennis circuit can be tough. Playing several tournaments, digesting hard defeats and criss-crossing the globe going through long haul flights between tournaments. But then success doesn’t come easy and for someone like Karolina Pliskova (2017 champion at the Qatar Total Open), it’s a part and parcel of being in the trade of playing tennis.
The Czech, who’s had quite a mixed start to 2019, arrived in Doha on Monday morning to play in the 17th edition of Qatar Total Open and after a few hours of sleep, she was at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex to interact with the media.
The World No. 5 made the dash to Doha following her loss to Romanian Simona Halep after two-and-a-half-hour long battle in the Fed Cup back home in Ostrava on Sunday.
Pleasing and not complaining, Pliskova smiled talking about her travel and schedule. “I left later yesterday (Sunday), so I tried to make it to Vienna (Austria) to come here as fast as I can.
So I made it here this morning. I just tried to sleep a little. Not much.
“I feel a little tired today, but that’s normal because the weekend was not only physically but mentally tough too. That’s always with Fed Cup. But I play on Wednesday, so there is one more day tomorrow and I think that I will be ready.”
Pliskova had earlier won the Brisbane Open before toppling Serena Williams at the Australian Open quarter-final. Then she succumbed to eventual winner Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals.
“Yeah, for sure, not an easy start to the year by playing so many good players already,” she said, before explaining, “It’s only second month, and I have played I think four, five, six Grand Slam winners. But pleased that I have a good start, and I feel like I can build on the matches that I have played. Obviously, beating players who were lower-ranked than me is always good. I have a lot of matches which I won in the first month, which is always good to start season like this.”
The 2016 US open finalist, also known for her killing ace-hitting ability, has shown great promise, and at 26, she continues to be one of most impressive players among the top-10. She likes being in Doha and a second triumph here could just provide the much-needed impetus and propel her flight of success. But for that to happen, Pliskova will have to go past players like Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber, and perhaps Halep again in the final if the tournament stays to the script.
“Well, to play Simona I have to win four more matches, so this is very far. So I’m not thinking about it at all. Obviously, I won a title here, so there is some different feeling always in the tournament where you win the title, so you believe that you can do it again.
“And I like these conditions here, so I don’t see any reason why I should not play good tennis here. I think, if I survive the first couple days here, I’ll be fine.
“Now coming from the Fed Cup, I had a good two matches: one I won, one I lost, obviously, with Simona. But I think it was a good match so I’m not that negative about that.”
Pliskova began playing tennis at the age of four and turned pro at 17 in 2009. And since then she’s made the final at the US Open (2016), semis of the French Open (2017) & Australian Open (2019), fourth round at the Wimbledon (2018) besides winning 12 WTA singles & five doubles titles, ten ITF titles, and a career prize-money of $15,247,752.
With 2016 being her best season thus far, the 6’,1” tall and lissome player seems to be on the cusp of greater glory. A former World No. 1 (attained raking in July, 2017), she also knows how it is to be like one, something that Osaka is currently enjoying.
But would that put more pressure on the Japanese? Pliskova feels Osaka would do good. “Well, I felt strange the first match or two, but then I think you get used to it as all the other feelings, like if you are top 10 first time. But obviously it takes time.
“I think she’s (Osaka) gonna do well, because she won two Grand Slams in a row, so she can be confident enough and for sure she is. There is no reason why she should panic. I know now it’s not going be easy, because in Japan, for sure, it’s huge.
“So it’s going to always be tough in the beginning, the pressure, but I think she can do well. She proved that, you know, after US Open she still won a Grand Slam, so sometimes some players, they just hit some up-and-downs and they played well and then they lost few matches in a row. She didn’t do that, so I think she’s gonna be fine.”
Interestingly for Pliskova, she tends to run into her identical twin sister Kristyna (elder to her by a few minutes) during the desert swing. This time the two are playing in the doubles in Doha and Karolina is delighted about that.
“Yes, we’re playing doubles with Kristyna here. I’m thankful for the wild card and the opportunity to play, because we don’t get that many chances to play doubles together. We always enjoy, and if there is a chance, we just try to play. Obviously the schedule sometimes is not the same, and some tournaments I don’t play doubles that much anymore, but it’s going be fun, for sure.
For someone who now resides in Monte Carlo, loves fishing, listening to pop music and eating pasta, Karolina can certainly look forward to mixing business with pleasure before it’s back to the big grind on the tennis courts!

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