All smiles as Pliskova braces for maiden Olympics

After losing the Wimbledon final to Ashleigh Barty in three sets, world number seven sets her eyes on the Tokyo Games


AFP July 13, 2021

PRAGUE:

Karolina Pliskova was all smiles as she stopped over in Prague on her way from the Wimbledon final to her maiden Olympic tournament at Tokyo on Monday.

Two days after losing the Wimbledon final to Ashleigh Barty in three sets, Pliskova hailed the tournament as a success that was due in part to a change in her mindset.

"I see it as a success rather than a failure. It's not as if I played a final every other day," Pliskova told a news conference at a Prague tennis academy bearing her name.

The Wimbledon final was her best Grand Slam result side by side with the 2016 US Open final when she lost to Angelique Kerber in three sets.

"I never did well at Wimbledon and I never really liked the tournament, so this has changed a bit," said Pliskova.

"I'm still nursing this goal of winning a Grand Slam, I will have that until I make it," added the 29-year-old world number seven who flew to Prague from London on Monday.

"I just threw the suitcases on the floor and had a shower at home," she said with a smile contrasting with her tears on the court after the final, and with her sometimes restrained behaviour on and off the court.

"I have found a way of enjoying tennis and have a laugh now and then, and when I laugh I feel I'm doing better on the court so I'll try to keep doing that," Pliskova added.

She praised her German coach Sascha Bajin, whom she hired at the end of last year, as a major positive influence.

"He is never upset. I've had quite a few bad games this year and he was never down. He just believed it would happen some day and maybe that's why I got so far," Pliskova said.

After the hectic two weeks at the All England Club, Pliskova is taking a short time off that started with a dinner after the final on Saturday.

"Somehow I didn't quite manage to drink the amount of alcohol I had planned so I was really awfully sick," she said.

"I was planning to spend all Sunday shopping but it shrank to two hours. I bought a handbag because I'm crazy about handbags," Pliskova said.

She is leaving for Spain on Thursday for four days of training, before travelling to Tokyo next Monday for her first-ever Olympics.

Pliskova pulled out of the Rio games in 2016 over concerns about the Zika virus.

"I have my age and it may be my first and last Olympic tournament," said Pliskova, who is due to play both singles and doubles in Tokyo.

She only regretted that the tournament would be played behind closed doors, following a decision made by the organisers last week.

"The atmosphere at Wimbledon was really incredible, and Tokyo without an audience will be tough," said Pliskova.

"But we played without the crowd for a year and we got used to it somehow. The games will be the same for every one and so will the courts so we'll just have to find another kind of motivation."

"I'm looking forward and I'm curious. I have no comparison with other Olympics, but the Japanese are accurate and they will make it nice and clean and great games overall."

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