Wimbledon Scare Was A Turning Point For Karolina Pliskova - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Scare Was A Turning Point For Karolina Pliskova

Coach Sasha Bajin speaks out about the moment which turned around Pliskova’s fortunes on the Tour.

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Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

It has been a turbulent past few weeks for Karolina Pliskova who has gone from a lull in form to reaching her second major final at Wimbledon.

 

The former world No.1 came into the tournament short of match wins with few people talking up her chances of winning. It started at the Italian Open back in May when she was crushed 6-0, 6-0, by Iga Swiatek in the final. Then she fell in the second round at the French Open before losing her opening matches in Berlin and Eastbourne.

Despite those setbacks, Pliskova has managed to turn her fortunes around in Wimbledon where she has dropped just one set en route to the final. Doing so in the semi-final against second seed Aryna Sabalenka in a match which featured 32 aces. So what has been the trigger for her resurgence?

“Every tournament we go to I kind of really do not expect her to do well but we aim for big results. Maybe this time I was a little bit more vocal,” coach Sascha Bajin told reporters on Friday.
“It was after that first match against Zidansek. She was 2-5 down in the first set and something happened. It’s very hard for me to explain. I saw something change. She got up off the chair, a different look in her eyes, like a different play. It was something about her that changed.’
“From that day I told her every day that we’re going to be here two weeks later having this conversation. I’m just happy it worked out.”

Bajin, who is a former hitting partner of Serena Williams, started to work with Pliskova towards the end of 2020. He was the person who guided Naomi Osaka to her first two Grand Slam titles and won the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year award back in 2018. He has also worked with Kristina Mladenovic and Dayana Yastremska.

“They’re all very different. It’s more about their personality. I think a lot of that personality displays on court as well,” he explained.
“Karolina, for being a former world No. 1, she’s a huge name in tennis and she’s incredibly humble. She has a totally different on-court personality than off court, which makes my job also a lot more fun I have to say. On the court, she can seem kind of cold. Off court she’s nonstop laughing, smiling, cracking jokes.”

At the age of 29 Pliskova is one of the few yet to have won a major title after being ranked world No.1 at some stage of her career. Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina never triumph in a major despite rising to the top. Meanwhile, Caroline Wozniacki was 27 when she won her first.

Bajin believes a reason for Pliskova’s lack of Grand Slam glory is more to do with her mental side rather than physical. Since appearing in the final of the 2016 US Open, she has reached the last eight or better in seven out of 18 major events played (including Wimbledon this year).

I always said, even in Australia (at the Australian Open) I felt like she wanted it so much. It’s something she wanted so much. The problem becomes if you want something so much, it’s just as bad as not wanting it enough. It kind of paralyzes you and it looks like you don’t care, when it’s the complete opposite,” he explains.
“That’s why this time I kind of really was telling her, Listen, you’re going to win this, you’re going to be here for two weeks. I wanted to put that in her mind every day with a tiny little input. At least it worked,” he added.

Pliskova will play Ash Barty in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

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Carlos Alcaraz becomes the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since Kei Nishikori in 2008

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Carlos Alcaraz beat Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2 in the final of the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag becoming the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach in 2008 and the youngest Spanish ATP Tour champion since RafaelNadal in Sopot 2004. 

 

Alcaraz earned his first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead with an inside-in forehand winner and he never looked back by holding his next service games. The Spanish teenager broke serve in the third game as Gasquet made a double fault. Alcaraz converted his third break point in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Gasquet earned three break points but he was not able to convert them. 

“I had a lot of good moments in this tournament. I beat five great tennis players. I think that I grew up a lot in this tournament and  I keep a lot of experience from this tournament. It’s going to be useful for the future”, said Alcaraz. 

Gasquet was aiming to win his first ATP Tour title since s’Hertogenbosch in 2018. 

“It was tough for me to play with his full intensity. I had a tough match yesterday. It was tough, and especially with a guy like Carlos, who is playing really fast with a lot of energy and spin. He is playing unbeievable. He is only 18 and of course he had a great future and Ijust could not play at his level and his intensity”, said Gasquet. 

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches the semifinal in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz edged past third seed Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-1 after 2 hours and 18 minutes to reach his second tour-level semifinal at the Playa Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the second youngest semifinalist in Umag tournament history. Nadal was the only player who reached the semifinal in Umag at a younger age. Nadal achieved this feat at the age of 17. 

Alcaraz broke serve in the fourth game at deuce to open up a 4-1 lead. Krajinovic broke back in the seventh game to claw his way back to 3-4. Both players traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games and held their next service games en route to the tie-break. Alcaraz earned four mini-breaks to take a 7-3 lead. 

Krajinovic broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the second set 6-2. Alcaraz got three breaks to claim the third set 6-1. The Spaniard attacked a second serve on break point in his first return game of the third set and hit a forehand volley to earn the break. Alcaraz did no drop his serve in his next service games to set up a semifinal against his compatriot Albert Ramos Vinolas, who cruised past Stefano Travaglia 6-1 6-1 after 68 minutes. Ramos Vinolas went up a 2-0 lead with an early break. Travaglia broke straight back in the third game. Ramos Vinolas broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to win the second set 6-2. 

The Spaniard earned two more breaks in the second and sixth games to claim the third set 6-2. 

Richard Gasquet edged past Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-6 (9-7). Gasquet fended off a break point in the opening game before breaking serve in the second game. Dzumhur earned another break point in the fifth game but Gasquet saved it to open up a 4-1 lead. Gasquet served out for the first set in the ninth game. 

The Frenchman broke Dzumhur in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and earned a chance for the double break, but Dzumhur saved three break points to claw his way back to 3-4.

Gasquet was not able to convert any of his three break points in the seventh game and Dzumhur broke back in the eighth game. 

Gasquet broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, but he was no able to serve out for the match in the 10th game. Gasquet earned a chance to get another break in the 11th game, but Dzumhur saved two break points to take a 6-5 lead. 

Gasquet served out the 12th game to force a tie-break. Gasquet converted his third match point to reach the semifinal. 

Gasquet set up a semifinal clash against Daniel Altmeier, who beat Dusan Lajovic 6-2 6-3. Gasquet has become the oldest semifinal in the tournament’s 31-year history behind Paolo Lorenzi, who reached the 2017 semifinal. 

“I started well. I could not manage to break him at 4-2 in the second set and then I struggled a little bit on my serve. It was tough, but I fought a lot to finish the match in the second set. It was a great tie-break and important to win. I need to be physically ready to go further, as I try to reach the final”, said Gasquet. 

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Astra Sharma beats Natalya Vikhlyantseva to reach the quarter final in Palermo

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Astra Sharma beat Natalya Vikhlyantseva 6-4 7-5 at the Ladies Open in Palermo to reach the quarter finals for the first time since her Charleston title. 

 

Vikhlyantseva made 11 double faults, including six in the second set. Sharma came back from 0-4 down by winning six consecutive game to take the first set 6-4. The Australian player was broken back, when she was serving for the match. 

Sharma set up a quarter final against Danielle Collins, who beat Maddison Inglis from Australia 6-4 6-1 after 1 hour and 20 minutes. Sharma has never met Collins before. 

After three trades of break Collins broke serve at love in the 10th game to win the first set 6-4. Collins broke twice in the first and sixth games to win the second set 6-1. 

Olga Danilovic beat Katarina Zavatska 7-6 (7-4) 7-5. Both players traded breaks twice in the first set en route to the tie-break. Danilovic won a tight tieak with three mini-breaks. Zavatska went up a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Danilovic broke straight back in the sixth game. The next games went on serve until the 12th game when Danillovic got the decisive break to win the second set 7-5. 

Lucia Bronzetti beat 2011 US Open Junior champion Grace Min 6-3 6-1. Bronzetti broke serve in the second game of the first set to take a 2-0 lead. Min broke straight back in the third game. Bronzetti converted her third break point in the eighth game to win the first set 6-3. 

Bronzetti went up a 3-0 lead with two breaks after two very long games. Min pulled back one break back in the fourth game, but Bronzetti earned two breaks in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-1. 

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