Karolina Pliskova tipped to shine at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
One of the most exciting newcomers on the WTA Tour, the 23-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2015 as she climbed as high as seven in the world rankings. She gave an indication of what was to come when she reached Dubai after advancing to the final in Sydney and the semi-finals in Antwerp. Once she arrived in the UAE Pliskova battled her way to the final with successive three-set victories over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, Lucie Safarova and Garbine Muguruza.
She went on to reach the quarter-finals in Miami and win her fourth career singles title on home ground in Prague. In Birmingham, she beat world No. 9 Carla Suarez Navarro before being edged in a third-set tiebreaker in the final by this year’s Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.
This season, Pliskova has made a solid start by reaching the quarter-finals in Sydney where she was stopped again by Halep, and the third round of the Australian Open. Last weekend, she was in Fed Cup action when she almost single-handedly earned a 3-2 victory over Romania. She not only overcame Halep this time in a three-set thriller, but beat Monica Niculescu in another three-set battle before clinching victory for her country in the decisive doubles rubber.
“Karolina Pliskova’s performance against Romania in Fed Cup was astonishing and has left us in no doubt that she will once again be a strong challenger for the title here,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman, Dubai Duty Free.
“It will be interesting to see how she fares against one of the strongest fields ever to play in the 16 years of the WTA event, which includes four current or former world No. 1s and three Dubai champions.”
Pliskova was something of a reluctant player when she first took up the game together with her twin sister Kristyna, and in retrospect she wishes she had made more of an effort in the early days.
“Just to practise maybe a little bit more, because in the beginning we were not that into tennis because no one from our family played so it was a little bit hard, and to get from juniors to women’s,” she said.
“But I learnt to stay and work hard every day to get the chance to be the best. It doesn’t matter if you have talent or not. The idea is to just practice and try,” she added.
And if she had not become a tennis professional? “I would love to do any other sport because I’m doing sport from the beginning, from like four years old, so I cannot imagine I’m not doing any sport in my life. But I guess if I would not have started to do any sport and led a different life, maybe I’d be a model or something.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak was pleased to have Pliskova join a strong women’s field in Dubai.
“Her results here have kept on improving in each of the last three years. She lost her first qualifying match in 2013, but she qualified for the main draw in 2014 and last year she went till the final,” Tahlak said.