Profile | Karolina Pliskova
Kvitova and Safarova have been joined at tennis' top table by another Czech sensation
By Stephen Higgins | 13 August 2015
In August 2015, Karolina Pliskova entered the WTA Top 10 for the first time. In doing so, the lady from Louny, a small town an hour from Prague, joined her fellow Czechs Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova amongst the world's elite.
This level of success has even surprised the Czech, but the 23-year-old and her twin sister Kristyna, showed promise on the court from an early age.
Karolina Pliskova was born two minutes before Kristyna on March 21, 1992. Her parents, Radek and Martina, hail from Prague, but the twins were raised in Louny, a town just north-west of the capital.
The pair started playing tennis at their local club aged four. The girls progressed to such an extent that the historic Sparta Prague tennis club, where the top Czech pros train, came calling.
Karolina participated on the ITF Junior Circuit from 2006 to 2010. The undoubted highlight was grand slam success at the 2010 Australian Open, where she defeated Britain's Laura Robson in the final. Also in that year, Pliskova captured the Canadian Open in singles and doubles, the latter with Kristyna.
Taking on the Tour
In a 2015 interview with Sport360's Reem Abulleil, Pliskova spoke about the difficulty in turning junior promise into senior success:
"Juniors is a totally different competition so it was a little bit tough to come through after that knowing that you are a good junior, getting into the women’s game. Because no one cares that you won Melbourne,”
While she only officially turned professional in 2009, Karolina had been playing ITF tournaments for three years by that stage. Her first title came at Bol, Croatia in 2008, and she followed that up with trophies in countries as diverse as Italy, Japan and Scotland - such is the life of a burgeoning tennis talent!
Progress was steady rather than swift for the Czech, as she finished inside the year-end world top 200 for the first time in 2011. The following year saw more improvement, but 2013 was the season when Pliskova made a substantial surge.
In February, at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, Pliskova claimed her first WTA title. After hammering Japan's Ayumi Morita in the semi-final 6-0 6-2, the 20-year-old came from a set down to defeat Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the final. That triumph propelled her into the top 100.
This important milestone was followed up by a run to the final of Nottingham, and further success in Asia, as she captured an ITF event at Sanya, China.
Radek and Martina must have been teeming with pride that October, as their girls earnt a joint accolade when they became the first set of twins to win a WTA title at Linz, Austria.
2014 was the year when Karolina exceeded her own expectations, and lamentably the abilities of her older sibling. The younger twin made remarkable progress in those 12 months, leaping into the world's top 30 by the end of the season.
Her ascent was built on two more title victories, at Seoul and Linz, and three other final appearances at Pattaya City, Nuremburg and Hong Kong. Pliskova also reached at least the second round of all the grand slams, and defeated some high level opponents including Sam Stosur, Angelique Kerber and the former world no. 1, Ana Ivanovic.
The sisters continued to do it for themselves and added two more titles to their doubles stash, with triumphs at Bad Gastein and Hong Kong. Unfortunately for Kristyna, she could not keep pace with Karolina's progress in singles, and remained outside the top 100 going into 2015.
This year has been outstanding for the Czech no.3, with another title at her home tournament of Prague, and four other singles finals, the most of any WTA player going into August. She may also add international success to her resumé in November, as the Czech Republic take on Russia in the Fed Cup final.
It is no exaggeration to say that Pliskova's rise in the space of two years has been astonishing.
The foundation of Pliskova's game is her explosive serve. It is so effective, that the Czech leads the tour in aces as we approach the season's denouement. Her powerful delivery does comes with some risk, as she also makes the top 10 for double faults over the same period.
The 23-year-old's ground game is quite similar to her compatriot, Petra Kvitova. They both like to take big cuts at the ball, be it from the forehand or backhand, in play or on return. There is little margin to Pliskova's game, so expect to see a tremendous amount of winners and unforced errors before a match is through.
While her play can be erratic, she is in full control of her emotions. She almost seems disinterested on court at times due of her calmness. A great asset.
An area that needs improvement however is her speed around the court. Though to be fair, the Czech has mentioned this as an area that she is constantly working on.
Apart from that, Pliskova's devastating weapons and impressive composure should keep her near the top of the game for some time to come.