IT HAD been a busy week for Karolina Pliskova at the Qatar Total Open. She arrived late as she was anchoring Czech Republic to the Fed Cup semifinals while the tournament was on in Doha. Then, the lanky world No.3 had to play three matches in space of two days due to unseasonal downpour in the Qatari capital.
Yet, it did not deter Pliskova from clinching her maiden title in Doha as she beat Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-4 in the final for her second triumph of the season following Brisbane.
The 24-year-old had not advanced past the second round in Doha previously.
And her head-to-head record against Wozniacki was equally disappointing as she had lost in all three previous meetings between them.
But the last of those appearances was in 2014. Pliskova is a much-improved player these days as was evident from her maiden Grand Slam final appearance at the US Open last September.
The quarterfinal entry at the Australian Open following the Brisbane triumph propelled her to a career-high No.3.
And the win in Doha has given her the confidence as she eyes new frontiers in the season.
“I think I’m having a great start to the year, which is always important. To beat players like Dominica Cibulkova (in the semifinal where she hit a career-high 21 aces) and Wozniacki is something amazing. I had never beaten them before, but I was trying really hard,” said Pliskova as she received the Falcon trophy from Qatar Tennis Federation President Nasser Ghanem Al Kholaifi.
Making her fourth successive appearance in Doha, it has been a week of ‘endurance test’ as well for Pliskova who became just the second Czech champion in Qatar after Lucie Safarova in 2015.
With rains sending the scheduling for a toss, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinal and then Cibulkova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in an exciting semifinal the same day before meeting Wozniacki 16 hours later.
“It has been a really tough week with the conditions, the waiting and everything. The wind was blowing heavily and anything was possible,” added Pliskova, who claimed her eighth career title.
One of the most improved players on the WTA Tour in recent times, Pliskova is fast moving up her way in the rankings. But for the moment her focus is on winning a maiden Grand Slam than the numero uno spot. dsp