Posts Tagged ‘Karolina Pliskova’

Pliskova serving for the match with two match points,” chimed the two commentators together, as if they were singing a duet. Pliskova tossed the ball, and then caught it. There was an audible sigh throughout the stadium. Pliskova smiled like a nervous schoolgirl. One of the commentators, the great Martina, laughed gently. The other commentator said softly, “Deep breath, deep breath“, as if he was egging Pliskova on. Pliskova, of course, couldn’t hear all this. She was all alone in the middle of the court. She was serving for the match. On the opposite side of the net, her opponent nicknamed ‘The Tiger’ was waiting to pounce on her serve. There was pindrop silence. It was hard to believe that the stadium was full and there were thousands of people there. Pliskova tossed the ball again. Then she hit her serve. The ball soared into the opposite side of the court and zoomed past the Tiger at the speed of light. It was an ace. Pliskova raised her hands and then she smiled. This was a smile of happiness, of relief. The audience in the stadium stood up and gave her a standing ovation. I don’t think Pliskova has ever received such love from tennis fans before. Her husband screamed in their box with happiness. Her coach cried. I almost expected the other Pliskova, Kristyna, to be there, cheering her. It would have been fun to see one Pliskova in the court raising her arms and an identical Pliskova among the audience cheering.

Pliskova smiling nervously like a schoolgirl just before serving for the match
Pliskova raises her hands after serving an ace at matchpoint

Karolina Pliskova has been around for quite a while. She has been in the top 10 as long as I can remember. She has been one of the most consistent performers in the women’s circuit. She has also been one of the big hitters and she has regularly topped the aces count among women players at the end of the year. But she had never had much luck in grand slams. She reached one US Open final five years back, but outside of that, her grand slam record was quite patchy. It was odd, because she had a great serve, wonderful shots, a powerful game. It was strange that this was the first time she had gone past the fourth round at Wimbledon, because her serve alone was made for Wimbledon. As Pliskova continued playing consistently for a decade, she saw young upstarts coming out of nowhere going on to win a grand slam and then sliding back into obscurity. She must have wondered what it took to win a grand slam, and why these upstarts were doing it while she couldn’t, though she turned up everyday, played consistently, stayed in the top 10, and played the year end tournament every year. Maybe she thought of all this, when she was serving at matchpoint. But that is all in the past now. That serve soared over the net and it was one of the great moments of this year’s Wimbledon and now it is a part of history. Pliskova is on the other side now and today is a new day and it is a new match. Pliskova’s fans are getting a feeling that this time something is different, they are seeing a steely determination in Pliskova’s face and in her demeanor. Pliskova played the best match of her life to get past the game’s biggest powerhitter, Aryna Sabalenka, nicknamed ‘The Tiger’. Sabalenka didn’t play a bad match. She played a brilliant match. But it was not enough. Sabalenka will have her time under the sun. The Tiger will roar again. But this was Pliskova’s day.

Today evening, Pliskova plays the likeable Ash Barty, who is everyone’s darling, for the championship. The Wimbledon crowd is going to be on Barty’s side. I am not going to make any predictions, but my sentimental favourite is going to be Pliskova. I always love the underdog. If Pliskova gets her serve in, like she did in the semifinals, Barty is going to have a tough time. It is going to be a great match.

Read Full Post »