By Ros Satar, in Eastbourne

  • Karolina Pliskova [2] def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 2-6 6-3
  • Has never made it past the second round of Wimbledon despite winning titles in Nottingham, Eastbourne and making the Birmingham finals
EASTBOURNE, UK – Defending champion Karolina Pliskova has not had much of a run in on the grass as she started her campaign with a win at the Nature Valley International.

 

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While Czechs have been running rampant on the grass this season in Birmingham, Karolina Pliskova, often lumped into the ‘Czech so must be able to play on grass’ bucket, got a first much needed win on the grass this season.

A Nottingham and Eastbourne champion and a Birmingham finalist, there is absolutely no doubt that she can play on the green stuff. Yet that has just not translated when it comes to heading down to Wimbledon – amazingly she has never made it past the second round on a surface that seems to be in all the other Czechs’ blood.

Back in Birmingham, she told reporters: “Well every year I win a title on grass. I won Eastbourne, I was in final here, so I don’t know what is wrong about Wimbledon. I feel like it’s very different the grass, compared to this tournament. I feel like [in Birmingham] it’s much faster. You can have lot of free points from the serve, from the rallies.

“I played on centre court first time last year, so I felt like it was pretty slow, but I had tough opponents you have to say. I had Magdalena (Rybarikova) which I play here as well but she made it to semis. Sometimes those tricky players on grass are not my favourite for sure, and not for the first few rounds of the tournament. So, if I would maybe pass last year this match, it would be different as well but yeah hopefully this year is going to be different.”

She would go on to lose to Magdalena Rybarikova, whose grass court craft took her to a scintillating final as Petra Kvitova repeated her title winning form. But all this left Pliskova out in the cold a little as she travelled down to start a title defence here.

She said, after a tough first round battle with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: “I feel good. There is no reason why I should panic or why I should not play well, because it’s about couple of points and everything can be different. This match I think was very important that I won, because I know I can be better with every match what I play.

“So I played a lot of practices now on grass. When I lost in Birmingham, obviously that was tough draw there, a tough tournament, but I feel much better now. Even though I don’t know how I’m going to play this week, then there is still Wimbledon, and maybe it’s better if I lose and go (smiling).”

 

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This assumption that all Czechs belong on the grass does not hold water with the dry-humoured Czech who hands down one-liners with hilarious dead-pan delivery, making her one of the more intriguing personalities on the tour, and certainly one to check in with (no pun intended) during any tournament.

She said: “I like hard court the most. Then there is clay. And then there is grass (smiling). I mean, I was playing every year quite solid, I would say. Just Wimbledon was not really working for me. But it can be good, I think, with my game, with my style of the game. I feel like I can play well.

“Still waiting for the result. But, no, it’s maybe clay and grass is similar, so I just feel the best on hard court. But it’s not bad relationship.

“For sure I believe I can go far, so it’s not that I hate the tournament. I don’t like; it’s not that I hate. But maybe we can, you know, try better relationship together with Wimbledon and I can play better this year.

“I have, again, different team there. A lot of things are different than with last year. So, yeah, maybe also a little bit luck and I feel like I can play well there.”

Play continues at the Nature Valley International from 11am (BST).

 

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