Wimbledon: It was 12 days ago, as the doors at the All England Club opened after a years break for the players and the officials, all them walked into the venue with a mindset, ‘give our best shot’. But, there was one (player) who was so despondent about her form and ever wondered if she could last at least the first week of the championship.
Karolina Pliskova is the player in focus as she admits of feeling low spirits from loss of hope, but that was not to be, as she has made it to the finale showdown with Ashleigh Barty for her second Grand Slam final.
What changed the entire campaign of Pliskova in this edition of the championship? Her coach Sascha Bajin, as she was convinced her ward would reach the final, and so she has, coming back from the grim loss of the first set to defeat No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the place for the final is a clear indication is positive thinking.
“The dream was to make the second week because I hadn’t done that for a while,” confessed the 29-year-old Czech, while talking to the Wimbledon website after her semifinal.
“I never thought about maybe going into the final. But Sascha was super confident in me. After the match he said, ‘I told you that you were going to make the final’. I still half can’t believe it.”
Until Wimbledon, concrete tournament progress was hard to find, with the former world No.1’s ranking slipping out of the top ten for the first time since 2016 just as she arrived here. But by reaching the final she is guaranteed to spring back up to No.7, and will bounce up to No.4 if she can defeat Ashleigh Barty on Saturday.
The win over Sabalenka was all the more remarkable after a first set in which Pliskova could not convert a single one of eight break points, before double faulting on set point.
“I was super-pissed about that,” she declared frankly. “I had so many chances in the first set. I thought especially the last game I could do much better. Not only the double-fault. I had two easy shots early in the game. I was getting frustrated about not making the chances I had.
“But I definitely thought I could win the second set because any time I was in the rally, I felt quite confident the point would be mine.
So it was only about the serve, and being patient, which is tough, especially for me. But it worked out in the end. I’m super proud about how I handled the situation.
In fact Pliskova’s only previous Grand Slam final was as runner-up to then world No.1 Angelique Kerber at the 2016 US Open. Now she must face the current top-ranked player in Barty, who holds a 4-2 advantage in their Tour-level meetings.
The Czech won their only grass encounter at Nottingham five years ago, while Barty edged their most recent on the Stuttgart clay this year. But Pliskova also had a losing record to Sabalenka, but her positive feeling about the summit clash should do her a world of good.