Karolina Pliskova: I Don’t Have To Be At My Best To Win - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova: I Don’t Have To Be At My Best To Win

After booking her quarter-final place, Karolina Pliskova talked about the pressures of being a top player at a Grand Slam.

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picture: zimbio.com

Karolina Pliskova beat Ashleigh Barty in 6-4 6-4 to secure progress to the quarter-final of the 2018 US Open without dropping a set, but she does not believe she has produced her best tennis yet.

 

“I feel like I’m strong mentally,” the Czech said in her press conference. “I’m not playing the best tennis this year, but somehow in the Grand Slams my mentality has been working.”

“That’s why I win a lot of those matches which are not easy. It doesn’t matter if I’m not feeling great or if I’m playing bad or they play great, I’m just able to beat those girls and go through somehow.”

Pliskova certainly seems to be more resolute than some of the other players in the top ten as, for the second consecutive Grand Slam, high-profile exits have dominated the opening week headlines in the women’s draw.

“It’s better than at Wimbledon,” the Czech said. “There was nobody (from the top ten) apart from me in the fourth round. There were so many tough matches – even for me.”

“I haven’t had any easy matches so far (at the US Open), and I’m also top 10 and the girls I was playing were not even seeded in the first few rounds.”

Pliskova continued, “There is extra pressure for seeded players at Grand Slams. Unseeded players always want to do well. They just try their best because it’s a dream for them to just be here.”

“Obviously it’s very hard for everybody to be successful in the Grand Slams, so that’s why some of the players lose when they should not.”

“But it’s very open. I think there is not even one easy match now in any tournament.”

Pliskova grateful to benefit from experience

zimbio.com

The World No.8 believes she handles big occasions much better than she used to. “It’s about the experience, for sure,” she said.

“I feel much better now, even though the pressure is still there. But I just feel like I’m handling those situations much better. I know how it is to be in the final and in the second weeks of Grand Slams. That’s what makes me confident I can do it again.”

When it comes down to crunch scenarios in matches, Pliskova remains calm because she knows she has excellent shots to call upon.

“I try to relax and not think that the situation is that difficult,” she said. “That always makes me feel a little bit better. I also try not to make things complicated.”

“And especially when it’s on my serve, I have weapons. Even if it’s on returns, I have so many shots I can play. I can hit a lot of winners, so I’m pretty confident about playing big points.”

Pliskova is also philosophical about losing. “It’s just tennis,” she said. “I don’t stress about winning or losing. Losing is bad, but it’s not horrible, and there is another tournament almost every week. So I try not to make a tragic thing out of it.”

ATP

Cincinnati Daily Preview: A Loaded Schedule Features All Third Round Matches

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Emma Raducanu on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Thursday’s schedule in Cincinnati is overflowing with appealing contests.  ATP third round singles action is especially stacked, featuring 11 of the world’s top 20, including world No.1 Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz.  WTA action features top names such as world No.1 Iga Swiatek and reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

It’s been a tough season for Raducanu, but she seems to be peaking just in time for her US Open title defense.  The 19-year-old followed up her comfortable victory over Serena Williams by dominating Victoria Azarenka 6-0, 6-2.  She is currently in a trial coaching relationship with Dmitry Tursunov, who in recent years guided the careers of two other WTA players to new heights (Sabalenka, Kontaveit).  That partnership appears to be paying immediate dividends for Emma, much like Tursunov’s coaching did for Aryna and Anett.  Pegula has become the American No.1, and since last August, has reached the semifinals at three WTA 1000 events in North America, including just last week in Toronto.  But in their first career meeting, Raducanu’s blistering form this week makes her the favorite.


Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Grand Stand

This is a rematch from three months ago at the Madrid Masters 1000 event, where Auger-Aliassime crushed Sinner 6-1, 6-2.  That was an especially surprising result on clay, which is not Felix’s best surface.  The 22-year-old Canadian is now 35-19 on the year, and defeated Alex de Minaur in straight sets on Wednesday.  Sinner has a slightly better record of 38-10, and on Tuesday, outlasted Thanasi Kokkinakis in an over three-hour match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Over the last few months, Sinner has been the more in-form player.  Jannik has won nine of his last 11 matches, while Felix has only managed five of his last 10.  With not much separating their abilities, confidence may be key, and that’s to Sinner’s advantage.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Andrey Rublev (6) – Fritz easily dismissed of an obviously-hampered Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday.  Rublev came back from a set down to take out Fabio Fognini.  Taylor is 3-2 against Andrey, which includes a straight set victory earlier this year at Indian Wells.

Petra Kvitova vs. Ons Jabeur (5) – Jabeur saved three match points on Wednesday against Ohio native Katy McNally.  A round earlier, Kvitova saved match point against last year’s runner-up, Jil Teichmann.  Petra leads their head-to-head 3-1, though Ons earned her first win in their friendly rivalry this season.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Madison Keys – On Wednesday, Swiatek outlasted the other finalist from the 2017 US Open, Sloane Stephens.  On the same day, Keys ousted another French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko. 

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Denis Shapovalov – This week, Shapovalov has earned his first back-to-back wins since May.  He has split four previous meetings with Medvedev, though Daniil has claimed their most recent two. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Diego Schwartzman (13) – Schwartzman already survived two three-setters this week.  He’s 2-2 overall against Tsitsipas, though Diego has taken both of their matches on hard courts. 

Marin Cilic (14) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Cilic won this event in 2016.  He’s 1-1 against Alcaraz, who is now 43-8 in 2022.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP

Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round

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A look at Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (twitter.com/cincytennis)

On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller.  In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.

 

WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek.  Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court

Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka.  He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began.  But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months.  Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year.  Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours.  But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor.  While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand

Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July.  But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play.  Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year.  On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0.  Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019.  These two Major champs have never played before.  Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year.  Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ.  Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.

Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ.  Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year.  They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington.  This will be their first career meeting.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts.  Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning.  Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP

Cincinnati Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Emma Raducanu, Venus Faces Karolina Pliskova

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Serena Williams practicing on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

In what is expected to be the next-to-last event of her storied career, Serena Williams will play her opening round match on Tuesday.  And in a blockbuster matchup, she faces reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  Can the 19-year-old defeat the GOAT, or can Serena pull off one more high-profile victory before her career comes to an end?

 

Tuesday’s schedule in Cincinnati features many other top names as well.  Center Court alone also includes Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Venus Williams, who takes on Karolina Pliskova in a battle between two of the WTA’s all-time best servers.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Venus Williams (WC) – Second on Center Court

This will only be Venus’ third singles match of the season, as multiple injuries have hampered the 42-year-old in recent years.  Williams has only earned one singles win in the last 18 months.  Pliskova has struggled this season since a hand injury caused her to miss the first two months of 2022.  But Karolina had her best run of the season last week in Toronto, where she reached the semifinals, which included a three-set win over fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari.  Venus and Karolina played three times between 2015 and 2017, with Pliskova taking two of those three encounters.  Their most notable match was in the fourth round of the 2016 US Open, which Karolina won in a third-set tiebreak.  In 2022, Pliskova is a considerable favorite to prevail.


Serena Williams (DA) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

This will only be Serena’s fourth singles match of the season, and she’s 1-2 since returning at Wimbledon.  Last week in Toronto, she made a tearful exit from the court after her straight-set loss to Belinda Bencic, as the Canadian crowd gave the 23-time Major singles champion a standing ovation.  With this mini-retirement tour being new territory for Serena, how will she react to what will be a boisterous American crowd on Tuesday?  She’ll surely feel nervous, but Raducanu will as well, as she likely assumed she would never get to play Serena.  Emma has understandably struggled since her shocking, life-changing run a year ago at the US Open, as she’s just 11-14 on the year.  But she’s still played a lot more tennis of late than Serena.  This match was originally scheduled for Monday evening, and reports indicated it was postponed until Tuesday due to an injury concern regarding Serena.  That’s advantage, Emma.  But as we’ve learned over the course of the last several decades, Serena is fully capable of willing her way to victory even when she’s far from her best.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Naomi Osaka vs. Shuai Zhang – Osaka is just 1-2 this summer, and was forced to retire last week in Toronto due to a back issue.  She is 3-2 against Shuai, though they haven’t played in nearly four years.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Kyrgios has won 14 of his last 16 singles matches, and is on an eight-match win streak in doubles.  Davidovich Fokina is only 4-9 this season on hard courts.

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – Gauff is now the new world No.1 in doubles, and is on the brink of making her top 10 debut in singles.  Bouzkova has claimed 18 of her last 22 matches at all levels. 

Mackenzie McDonald (WC) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – McDonald was a finalist last year in Washington, but arrived in Cincinnati on a three-match losing streak.  Alcaraz was upset last week in an extended affair with another American, Tommy Paul.  Earlier this year at Indian Wells, Carlitos beat Mackie 6-3, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp – Medvedev needs to win at least two matches this week to ensure he maintains his No.1 ranking.  He’s 2-0 against van de Zandschulp, taking seven of their eight sets contested, all on hard courts.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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