Karolina Pliskova took on Simona Halep in the Fed Cup in Ostrava on Sunday night. She lost in three sets, packed her gear and headed to the Qatar Total Open via Vienna, arriving in Doha yesterday morning.
At 3.30pm, however, she was at the Khalifa International Stadium after struggling to get a few hours’ sleep, having decided that it was better to hit a few balls on the tennis court and field questions from the media.
A jet-setting lifestyle is not always what it seems. It’s worth all the envy, of course, but it also has a few downsides – and catching two or three flights a day can be one of it.
“Not much. Can you see it?” Pliskova, the second seed at the Qatar Total Open, replied with a smile while pointing to her face when asked how many hours of sleep she had after landing in Doha. She admitted she was feeling a “little tired today” but that didn’t stop her from taking each question sportingly and giving lengthy answers.
“The weekend was not only physically but mentally tough, too,” she said of the Fed Cup in which Halep’s Romania defeated Pliskova’s Czech Republic. “That’s always with the Fed Cup,” she said of the tournament’s punishing schedule. “But, you know, I think I play Wednesday (in Doha), so there is one more day tomorrow. So I think I will be ready.”
The top four seeds in Doha have been given byes into the second round, and with many players still to arrive after the weekend’s Fed Cup in different parts of the world, only one main draw match – between the Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova and Oman’s wildcard Fatma al-Nabhani – was scheduled yesterday, the Qatar event’s official first day.
That ensured most of the focus was on Pliskova, the 2017 winner in Doha, who, like Halep is also targeting her second title here, with the duo scheduled to meet in the final if they don’t crash out earlier. Pliskova had a great Australian Open where she ousted Serena Williams in the last eight before falling to eventual winner Naomi Osaka of Japan in the semi-finals.
Osaka’s second straight Grand Slam title – she had won the US Open last year – catapulted her to the top of the world rankings at the expense of Halep, and Pliskova had only good things to say about the latest tennis sensation.
“I think she’s gonna do well, because she won two Grand Slams in a row, so she can be confident enough and for sure she is. There is no reason why she should panic. I know how it’s not gonna be easy, because in Japan, for sure, it’s huge,” said the Czech star.
She added that she herself had to get used to her World No 1 status when she achieved that in 2017.
“Well, I felt strange the first, you know, match or two, but then I think you can get used to it as all the other feelings, like if you are top 10 first time. So everything obviously takes time.”
Pliskova has had several tough matches already this year, but is pleased with her success so far.
“It’s not an easy start of the year by playing so many good players already. It’s only second month, and I have played I think four, five, six Grand Slam winners. But pleased with that that I have a good start, and I feel like I can build on these matches what I have played.
“Now coming from the Fed Cup, also good two matches: one I won, one I lost, obviously, with Simona. But it’s always tough, but I think it was a good match so I’m not that negative about that.”
Pliskova, who is ranked fifth in the world, says she has no specific target for 2019.
“I have my goals, but it’s no different compared to the last year. Just want to play well. So far I’m doing what I want, and I just did everything what I did in practice, so that’s good. Still, it can happen that you lose to good players. I just lost two times so far and two times was Grand Slam winners, so if it continues like this, I’m happy.”
She also added that she was not too worried about the prospect of meeting Halep in the final.
“Well, to play Simona I have to win four more matches, so this is very far. So I’m not thinking about this at all. Obviously I won a title here, so there is some different feeling always in the tournament where you win the title, so you believe that you can do it again.
“And I like these conditions here, so I don’t see any reason why I should not play good tennis here. Obviously I had a lot of tennis in the past days, but I think if I survive the first couple days here, I’ll be fine.”
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