Karolina Pliskova will arrive at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month with her confidence sky-high after she got 2017 off to a flying start by claiming her seventh career title at the Brisbane International last week.
That triumph followed her best-ever season during which the world No. 5 won Nottingham and Cincinnati and reached the Eastbourne final, before coming within one victory of earning her first Grand Slam crown at the US Open – overcoming Venus Williams in the fourth round and Serena Williams in the semis before falling in three nail-biting sets to Angelique Kerber.
She then closed out her year by playing a part in her country’s Fed Cup final victory over France. Her incredible opening rubber victory over Kristina Mladenovic finished 16-14 in the third, with the tie’s 49 games the third most ever played in a Fed Cup match.
In view of her success at such prestigious tournaments it is surprising that Pliskova claims to be less than comfortable at such events, although it is something she is adapting to over time.
“I always knew I had a big game so if I’m playing well I can beat the good players, the best players,” she said.
“But it’s tough sometimes to play the best tennis on the big stages. Now I think I finally got used to it. I’m not scared of anything, not my opponents, not myself, not the crowd, not anything. I think it just takes time with me and some experience, which I have now.”
Pliskova will need all her confidence when she comes up against one of the strongest fields ever assembled for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month.
Seven further members of the top 10 are also vying for the title, including world number one Angelique Kerber, reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza and former Dubai winners, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki.
Others bidding for one of the most sought-after trophies on the WTA Tour will be worthy challengers such as WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova, Britain’s Johanna Konta and three-time Dubai finalist and two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.
After her great run in New York it is natural that many eyes will be upon her to see if Pliskova can go one win better at the Australian Open. But although that surely adds extra pressure she insists that will not be the case.
“I’m not going to feel any pressure (in Melbourne),” she said. “Obviously people are going to say that I have a good chance. I’m hearing this more often, that I’m going to win a Grand Slam this year. But I don’t care if it’s this year or next year. I just want to try at every Grand Slam and do the best results there.”
And to further her bid for a Grand Slam crown and to continue her climb up the rankings she is trying to add more of a net game to her arsenal.
“I want to move closer to the net and have easier volleys,” she revealed to WTA Insider. “It’s improving. I think the doubles with Julia Goerges really helped me. I played a lot of doubles last year, even the year before, but last year we played really good. We’re going to continue this year. You have to play good volleys in doubles. So I think this really helped me.”
Certainly the pair have been enjoying plenty of court time and top-level competition, as in 2016 they reached the semi-finals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon as well as Cincinnati, and they reached the Indian Wells final. Karolina also won Birmingham with Barbora Strycova and reached the Nottingham semis with her sister Kristyna.
Sunday morning posing with trophy🏆😘 pic.twitter.com/GSQlGQogDi— Karolina Pliskova (@KaPliskova) January 8, 2017
“Karolina Pliskova showed us in 2015 what she is capable of when she reached the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final by defeating such accomplished opponents as Ana Ivanovic and Garbine Muguruza,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers.
“It will be very interesting to see how she fares this year against a field that is second to none.”
“Pliskova will face a formidable challenge as the event boasts one of the toughest draws outside of a Grand Slam” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.
“The depth of the field this year means that Dubai tennis fans will have a fantastic opportunity to see for themselves nearly every top player in the world.”
Staged at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in Garhoud, the action will commence on 19 February with the WTA Premier 5 event, followed on 27 February with the ATP 500 tournament offering a combined prize pool of US$5.2 million.
With the New Year approaching, it’s almost time for this year’s edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Here is a comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to know in the run-up to this year’s event.
The world’s top tennis stars, including World No.1 Andy Murray, World No.3 Milos Raonic, fourteen time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, Czech powerhouse Tomas Berdych, Debutant David Goffin and charismatic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Labelled the annual ‘season opener’, it continuously attracts the best from the sport of tennis that the world has to offer. The tournament lasts three days and is packed with action from start to finish.
Not only can spectators see a minimum of two world-class tennis games each day, they also have access to plenty of family fun in the Tennis Village.
Just outside centre court, guests can get up-close-and-personal with the players through autograph signing sessions, including Andy Murray and Milos Raonic on day one of the tournament and Rafael Nadal on day two.
Fans also get the chance for a coaching clinic with Murray on the opening day. Other famous faces you will spot in Tennis Village this year include Judy Murray, Andy Murray’s mum. There is something for all the family, especially the little ones as there is a special Kids Day on day one.
29-31 December 2016. Here’s what’s in store for fans on each day:
Day One – 29 December
On day one, David Goffin will face crowd favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening match of the tournament. Ranked 11th and 12th in the world, and good friends off the court as well, it’s bound to be dramatic, particularly as Tsonga has won three out of their five encounters.
Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, returning for his eighth appearance at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and looking to retain his title, will meet Czech giant Tomas Berdych in the second match of the day.
These two have met only once previously in Abu Dhabi at the 2010 edition, with Nadal sailing through to the semi-finals 6-4 6-4.
Day Two – 30 December
Murray and Raonic will be waiting hungrily to face the winners of day one for a blockbusting Friday.
Murray will be first up in the 5pm semi-final against Tsonga or Goffin, followed by Raonic v Berdych or Nadal at 7pm.
A bonus for tennis fans looking for a packed day of action, the fifth place play-off will kick off proceedings at 2.30pm, followed by a showdown featuring the top two Emirati players who will go head to head in a doubles match with the fifth and sixth place players.
Day Three – 31 December
The competition heats up at 1pm in the battle for third place, followed by the ultimate on-court clash at 3pm for the final. Be there.
On paper it should be a Murray-Raonic showdown which would mean a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final, and the recent epic semi-final between the two at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
But sport is never predictable and Nadal could well bring his usual Mubadala World Tennis Championship magic to town in a bid to take his fourth title in Abu Dhabi on New Year’s Eve. With Nadal playing on day one, this is the first time Nadal has the potential to play all three days of the tournament.
The International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi. Activities start from midday each day, except for finals day, Saturday 31st, where it begins at 10am.
Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ae or Virgin Megastores, starting from AED 50. Exclusive premier hospitality packages are also available including food and beverages, star player meet and greets and courtside seating, all offering fans the opportunity to be closer to the action with more access to tennis stars than any other event.
Imagine spending your New Year’s Eve watching two of the world’s best tennis players battle it out for a trophy. That’s what will happen if you come to Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Gift your friends and family the best holiday present in town and see in the New Year with exciting action from the world’s best tennis players.
MWTC 2016 ticket prices (in AED)
|Premier||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Category 1||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|3 Day Package||1,300|
|Category 2||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Family Package of 4||250||n/a||n/a|
|3 Day Package||600|
The Swiss star and world number three, who turns 35 in August, this week plays on the Stuttgart grass for the first time as he ramps up his preparations for Wimbledon in June-July.
"It's the grass-court season now, that's huge for me," said the seven-time Wimbledon champion, who headlines the Stuttgart event, which switched from clay a year ago and crowned Rafael Nadal its first champion on the new surface.
Federer made clear he had been disappointed by those who questioned - mostly on social media - the extent of the back injury that forced him out of Roland Garros.
Federer, who has been plagued by knee and back injuries this year, last missed a Grand Slam event in 1999 when he skipped the US Open.
"I was surprised to hear that some thought I pulled out because of the (Paris) weather," said Federer, who last tasted action when he lost to Dominic Thiem in the third round in Rome nearly a month ago.