Karolina Pliskova Hoping To Turn Positivity From New Coach Into Success - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Hoping To Turn Positivity From New Coach Into Success

Will a change of coach help the Czech end her Grand Slam title drought?

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With dreams of winning her first Grand Slam title in 2021 Karolina Pliskova has turned to the help of somebody who has already guided some of her rivals to the top prize.

 

In November it was confirmed that the former world No.1 will be coached by Sascha Bajin. A 36-year-old German who guided Naomi Osaka to her first two Major titles between 2017-2019. During that period he was named WTA coach of the year in 2018. Since then Bajin has also spent stints working with both Kristina Mladenovic and Dayana Yastremska but only achieved moderate success compared to his work with Osaka.

Now Bajin’s focus is on the 28-year-old left-hander who has already won 16 WTA titles during her career. The partnership is very much in its early days but Pliskova admits she likes what she is seeing so far.

“I think it is too early to judge something, but during the past few weeks he has been putting in everything possible to make me feel at my best. I cannot say everything about it now as I don’t want to be in heaven. Let us wait and see how things work out during the season,” she told reporters earlier this week.

Pliskova’s coaching history is one with many tiers. Her previous mentors include Jiří Vaněk (2014–16), David Kotyza (2017), and Tomáš Krupa (2017–18). Furthermore, she has also collaborated with former players Rennae Stubbs and Conchita Martinez, as well as Danni Vallverdu who is best known for his work on the ATP Tour.

Amid a history of coaching changes, Pliskova explains that she is trying to work with those who ‘put their heart into what they do.’ Her hope is that Bajin’s coaching history and commitment will make a good combination for the future.

“One thing for sure is that he [Bajin] has had success with many players. He knows how to be in a big team. He is super positive and there are lot of positive people around him as well, and that’s what I need. I am trying to find the right sort of people who put their entire heart into what they do. I feel Sasha is one of them and I am sure he will put his heart while he is in my team,” Pliskova explained.

Whilst there are high expectations the world No.6 stresses that she believes a large portion of her success is down to her on the court.

“Every time I have had a new coach I have played okay as I still believe that most of the success on court lies in me and not just on the coach. The coach is there to make me feel better and confident,” she added.

Pliskova is the third seed in this week’s Abu Dhabi Open. It will be the first tournament she has played since losing her opening match at the Ostrava Open in October.

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Andrey Rublev comes through a hard-fought clash against Roberto Bautista Agut in Monte-Carlo

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Eight-time ATP Tour champion Andrey Rublev battled past Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-2 in a hard-fought match to set up a quarter final match against Rafael Nadal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. 

 

Bautista Agut entered the match with a 3-2 lead in his head-to-head matches against Rublev and beat his Russian opponent in their most recent head-to-head matches. 

Bautista Agut went up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game. Rublev saved a break point to hold serve after two deuces before breaking serve in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4. Rublev earned two break points in the ninth game, but he did not convert them. Rublev broke serve in the 11th game, but he was not able to serve out the first set. Rublev got three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Bautista Agut raced out to a 4-1 lead with two breaks in the first an dfifth games in the second set, but Rublev pulled both breaks back to win four consecutive games for 5-4. Bautista Agut won the final three games, including a break in the 11th game to  close out the second set 7-5. 

Rublev earned an early break in the first game to take a 2-0 lead. Bautista Agut broke back in the fifth game at deuce, but Rublev broke for the second time in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and saved a break point to hold serve after three deuces in the seventh game. He served out at love in the eighth game. 

Rublev won the ATP 500 title in Rotterdam and reached three semifinals in Miami, Dubai and Doha. 

Rublev will face 11-time Monte-Carlo champion Rafael Nadal, who leads 2-0 in their previous two head-to-head matches in the quarter final of the 2017 US Open in New York and in a round robin match of the Nitto ATP Finals in London. 

Casper Ruud edged past Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 7-5 to set up a quarter final against defending champion Fabio Fognini.

Ruud got an early break in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead in the first set. Carreno Busta broke back to love in the ninth game. Carreno Busta got a mini-break to take a 3-2 lead. Ruud won five of the next six points, including three mini-breaks, to clinch the tie-break 7-4. Carreno Busta saved three break points to hold serve after four deuces for 4-3 in the seventh game and broke serve in the 12th game to win the second set 7-5. 

Carreno Busta converted his second break point in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. The Spaniard saved a break point in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Ruud rallied from 3-5 down by breaking twice in the ninth and eleventh games to clinch the third set 7-5. 

Ruud leads 2-0 in in his two head-to-head matches against his next opponent Fognini. 

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New Setback Forces Dominic Thiem Out Of Belgrade

The Austrian tennis star has written a blog post on his website titled ‘my knee hurts!”

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Dominic’s Thiem’s return to the Tour has been postponed for a second time due to a physical problem which he recently visited a doctor about.

 

The US Open champion has confirmed that he is currently suffering from pain in his knee and has decided to pull out of next week’s Belgrade Open. An ATP 250 event which will be headlined by world No.1 Novak Djokovic. It is unclear as to what kind of injury Thiem is suffering from or when the pain started. Earlier this year he confirmed that he had been suffering from a long-standing foot issue which gives him intermittent pain. Although there is no indication that these are linked in anyway.

“2021 just doesn’t want to get going. Unfortunately I will have to cancel my start at next week’s tournament in Novak Djokovic’s hometown Belgrade,” Thiem wrote in a statement. “My knee hurts and I went to see a doctor. It is not a big issue but I need to take care of it. I am definitely not fit enough to play next week.”

Earlier this month Thiem delayed his expected return to the Tour at this week’s Monte Carlo Masters because he was ‘not 100% yet.’ In a blog post on his website the Austrian admitted that he had ‘a lot of work to do’ and ‘tough weeks’ ahead. Thiem hasn’t played a match since the Dubai Tennis Championships after deciding to take a break from the sport in order to reset himself.

The hope for the world No.4 is that he will be back on track and ready to play at the Madrid Open which will begin on April 30th with the ultimate goal remaining to be back to full fitness at the French Open. Thiem’s most successful Grand Slam where he has reached finals in 2018 and 2019.

“I want to be completely fit at the beginning of May and play proper tennis,” he states.
“There is something positive, though: Coach Nicolas Massu arrived in Austria yesterday, we are going to continue my program even though at the moment we have to be careful. In the meantime I have also been working on my physical fitness with sports scientist Mike Reinprecht.’
“There is no doubt, the big goal till the summer are the French Open – in Paris I must be at my best.”

So far this season Thiem has only won back-to-back matches in one out of four tournaments played. Doing so at the Australian Open where he reached the fourth round before losing to Grigor Dimitrov. Since then he has suffered second round losses in Doha and Dubai. His win-loss record for 2021 currently stands at 5-4.

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Fabio Fognini continues his title defence with straight-set win over Filip Krajinovic in Monte-Carlo

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Fabio Fognini continues his title defence at the Monte-Carlo with a 6-2 7-6 (7-1) win over Filip Krajinovic after 1 hour and 28 minutes.

 

Fognini has reached the quarter finals for the second consecutive edition without dropping a set. He will face either Pablo Carreno Busta or Casper Ruud on Friday. 

Fognini went up a double break in the third and fifth games to race out to a 4-1 lead. The reigning champion missed his first two set points at 5-2 40-15, but he hit a crosscourt backhand winner at 40-40 before serving out the first set 6-2 with a forehand winner. 

Krajinovic went up a break in the second game of the second set. The World number 37 saved four break points and held his next service games to open up a 5-2 lead. Fognini broke back in the ninth game at 30, as Krajinovic made a forehand error on the break point. 

Fognini won seven consecutive points from 0-1 down with three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-1. 

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