DUBAI: Triple Brisbane winner Karolina Pliskova is hoping to add the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy to her fast-growing list of titles.
The world number 3 began the 2020 season in Brisbane with a bang as she successfully defended a title for the first time in her career, claiming her third triumph there in four years. And, even though she fell in the third round of the Australian Open to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Pliskova battled for nearly two and a half hours before conceding the match in two tiebreaks.
Her fine start to the new season followed a successful campaign in 2019, although when she arrives in Dubai she will be seeking to put aside her painful memory of falling in the quarter-finals last year after she had led Su-Wei Hsieh 5-1 in the final set. Before Dubai she had won in Brisbane and reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open by beating Serena Williams, and shortly after competing in Dubai she reached the final in Miami and went on to lift the winners trophy in Rome.
She made history in Birmingham by playing her sister Kristyna in the second round as the pair became the first identical twins in WTA history to play each other in a main draw match. Dubai tennis fans could have the opportunity to watch the twins team up together in the doubles at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in what would surely be a nightmare match for the umpire to call!
Karolina unexpectedly lost that match against her 112th-ranked sister, but the following week she hoisted her third trophy of the season by winning Eastbourne without conceding a set en route to the title, the first player to achieve the feat since Ekaterina Makarova in 2010. Towards the end of the season she added a fourth title for the year by winning in Zhengzhou, before closing out the year by reaching the semi-finals of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
“Karolina Pliskova has been ranked as the very best player in the world and since May of last year she has not been ranked outside of the top three, a tremendous achievement, “ said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “She has a fine record at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, reaching the final in 2015, and she clearly has an excellent chance of being even more successful this year. We wish her well.”
Pliskova knows that she will have a battle on her hands if she is to win her first Dubai title, and what she said after her narrow defeat in Melbourne will apply equally to her matches in Dubai.
“I mean, everybody is going to try to play the best against me,” she said. “So of course if I’m not there, really, like for 100% it’s going to be super tough. And of course the lower-ranked players they are always going to try to play the best tennis, which they do and they have nothing to lose.”
Tournament director Salah Tahlak added, “Karolina Pliskova has come so close to claiming the title before and she will begin yet again as one of the favourites to win, even though she faces a formidable challenge from so many other members of the world’s top 10. It will be very interesting to see how she progresses throughout what is certain to be an exciting celebration of 20 years of women’s tennis at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.”
Bianca Andreescu, who because of a knee injury was unable to play any Australian events last month, has lost her fight to be fit in time to compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and unfortunately has been forced to withdraw.
“I’m very sad to announce that I won’t be able to compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week,” she said. “I’m not at 100% yet and following my team and doctor’s recommendation, I don’t want to take any risk to re-injure my knee. Each day I get closer to being back to the court competing but Dubai is just too soon. Hope I can come and play in Dubai next year!”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, begins with the 20th anniversary of the WTA event which runs from 17th to 22nd February and features Wimbledon winner Simona Halep, 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin and world number 5 and defending Dubai champion Belinda Bencic. The tournament then continues between 24th and 29th February with the ATP event which stars reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, eight-time Dubai champion Roger Federer, 2019 ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 Dubai champion Roberto Bautista Agut.