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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Elina Svitolina came to the Dubai Duty Free Tennnis Championships on a winning streak from winning her fifth title at the Taiwan Open, and on the cusp of a Top 10 debut.

The young Ukrainian made her first leap into the big time in the desert, scoring back-to-back wins over Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki to win the biggest title of her career.

“I always try to take one step at a time. It’s very important for me to not rush things, and to stay very positive with myself,” she told WTA Insider in her Champions Corner Interview. “I did a lot of work with all the coaches I’ve had and my new team, so it’s always nice to have different opinions on my game. With Justine as well, it was an amazing year.

“I’m very happy with the way I’m playing now. Of course, there’s so many things that I need to work on, and I’m looking forward to new challenges.”

Svitolina had shown flashes of brilliance in the past, reaching the final of the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai and earning a pair of wins over World No.1s in 2016 – knocking out Kerber in Beijing and Serena Williams at the Olympic tennis event – but the 22-year-old is really on a roll now, winning 13 straight matches, breaking into the Top 10, and rocketing up to No.2 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard.

“Of course there’s been ups and downs with me, with my game and with my career. There will be more in the future. The only thing I can do is accept this and work hard and go on court, the gym, work even harder and always have this goal in my mind. That’s what drives me. I think I’m very lucky that it’s been going very consistently.”

All that success certainly helped her earn her the mantle of February’s WTA Player of the Month!

Elina Svitolina

Final Results for February’s WTA Player Of The Month

1. Elina Svitolina (63%)
2. Kristina Mladenovic (27%)
3. Karolina Pliskova (10%)

2017 WTA Player of the Month Winners

January: Serena Williams


How it works:

Finalists are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com
 

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA — Ajla Tomljanovic is just happy to be back. The 23-year-old was speaking to reporters less than an hour after a 7-5, 6-2 loss to Julia Goerges in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open. Indian Wells was just her second tournament back after undergoing shoulder surgery in March of last year, with her first tournament coming last week in Acapulco, where she defeated Eugenie Bouchard in her first match.

Currently ranked No.664, Tomljanovic could finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that after nearly a year away she could still hang with the best.

“A loss has never felt so good,” Tomljanovic said. “I’ve never been this upbeat after a loss, so that’s a good sign.

“I’d be so unfair to myself to be disappointed in myself at this point. Of course you’re disappointed at a loss. You’re a competitive athlete. But it lasted for 30 seconds.”

With her return to the tour, Tomljanovic brings a new perspective and appreciation for life on tour. Prior to her surgery, the Croatian reached a career-high of No.47 in 2015, making her first final in Pattaya City that year and notching her first top-five scalp, beating Agnieszka Radwanska at the 2014 French Open to make the Round of 16.

“It just feels like I’ve been away for decades,” she said. “This time last year I was supposed to play here and I had surgery when it started. My surgeon told me, ‘You’ll be back next year at that tournament.’ I thought my level, is it ever going to be there again?

“Just to be here and be competitive with these girls, I’m not far off. It’s the little things now that are important. It’s just encouraging.”

Tomljanovic admits her time away from the game was difficult. She was unable to play tennis for six months after her surgery but could not bring herself to use the time purposefully.

“I probably wasted a good four months being depressed,” she said. “Not depressed, but not doing anything with my life. Now I probably regret it a little bit. My dad was like, ‘Take classes, go do stuff’. But at the same time I’m constantly doing rehab. I couldn’t shut off completely that part of my life. I wasn’t mentally able to start something new. I had no motivation. My parents didn’t push me because I’m not a kid anymore. Now I kind of wish they did.”

But Tomljanovic slowly came to terms with life without tennis. Paradoxically, the realization that she did not need the sport allowed her to appreciate the opportunity to play again.

“Honestly, yeah, I could totally be super happy without playing.

“I know tennis is not your whole life, I know there are so many things in your life that are more important. But at the same time, it’s so precious. The 10 years in your life you can spend like this, look at how many people can do it. I probably appreciate it way more. I’ll never say I hate tennis ever again.”

Tomljanovic’s game is built around her booming serve, and that’s the shot that will take the longest time to get back online. Her consistency off the ground and her return game in particular have exceeded her expectations so far. “Even I was like, whoa,” Tomljanovic said, when asked about how well she returned against Bouchard in Acapulco.

The road ahead will not be an easy one. Tomljanovic earned a spot in the main draw of Acapulco via a special ranking of No.75, and entered Indian Wells similarly. She has also received a wildcard into the Miami Open. Unless she racks up immediate results, she’ll be back to battling it out on the ITF circuit to build her ranking back up.

“It’s gonna be a grind,” she said. “I’m going to have to play a lot, lose a lot, win a lot hopefully, in the end. But it’s going to be a long way back. Even though I had an okay match here, I won one match last week, there will be a lot of matches where nobody is watching. It’s okay. I’m happy to play anywhere.”

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova roared back from a set down to dispatch Olympic Gold medalist Monica Puig, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, to complete the top half’s third round line up at the BNP Paribas Open.

“I’m definitely happy I had my serve today; it was working with me, especially in the third set when I was 0-3 down,” she noted during her on-court interview. “I’m happy with the win. It wasn’t easy; she was playing really well, hitting the balls really fast and deep, making it tough for me to play my game. But I’m happy.

“It was far from what my plan was to play, and how my game should be,” she added to WTA Insider. “I don’t think I deserved to win tonight, but it happened.”

Puig had never taken a set from her Czech rival, but nonetheless began the night session in the sort of form that helped her win the Olympic tennis event in Rio de Janeiro, breaking Pliskova four times to sweep the opening set.

“The whole match was more about her; the one thing on my side was my serve, which is definitely better than hers. The baseline game was off for me and she was hitting so well. I couldn’t play aggressive, or play my game. When I put in a second serve she was being aggressive.

“I wasn’t feeling this bad in a long time!”

Undaunted, the Brisbane International and Qatar Total Open champion dug in her heels from there, earning several service breaks of her own and serving out the second set to level the match.

“I was just waiting for my chances; I know she can miss some shots when things get closer, and that’s what she did. But then I started terrible in the third set; at least it was just one break there.”

The Puerto Rican No.1 took another quick lead to start the decider, racing out to 3-0 as the upset appeared inevitable. But Pliskova fought through a long sixth game to help turn the tide once and for all, winning six of the last seven games to book her spot in the third round.

“First rounds are always tough, especially for the seeds because of the pressure. She’d had a match already, so that helped her. I was also practicing during the day, so the conditions were definitely different. Hopefully I got something from this and I can learn and move on.

“It can’t get any worse than today!”

In all, Pliskova hit 19 winners to 34 unforced errors and converted five of her seven break point opportunities. Puig proved the greater aggressor in the match, but 37 unforced errors canceled out her 32 impressive winners.

“All my practices were good, and nothing was close to this. I surprised myself with how I was playing. She was playing fast, plus the conditions, and I ended up framing so many shots.

“I’d beaten her three times before, but she can play really good tennis. She maybe gave me a few games and that’s why she lost, but otherwise she was playing great.”

Up next for the World No.3 is No.28 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, who defeated American Louisa Chirico, 6-1, 7-5.

“My sister played her in Australia. I know she can hit good shots; her backhand side is really good. I have to be more aggressive and bring more power; today was so bad!”

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News | WTA Tennis English

News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Kristyna Pliskova is ready to make her mark. As her twin sister No.3 Karolina Pliskova enjoyed a breakout season in 2016, Kristyna quietly carved her own path, grinding away on the ITF Circuit to break into the Top 100, capping off her season with her first title at the Tashkent Open.

Kristyna has continued to build on the momentum gained during her 2016 finish, having notched quality wins over the first three months of the season. She took Johanna Konta to three sets at the Shenzhen Open in January, beat Roberta Vinci in at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and steamrolled Daria Kasatkina in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, winning 6-0, 6-3.

Asked whether she was surprised by how easily she dispatched the No.33 seed, Kristyna spoke with the same candor and self-awareness as her sister.

“Not really because I know how I can play and this wasn’t even my best,” she said. “So I’m not that surprised. Of course, I’m happy because it was easy, by the score at least.”

“When I play fast (with power) it’s very difficult [for my opponents] to put everything in. Especially with [my] serve.”

Kristyna’s power game in built around that lefty serve. She holds the record for most aces fired in a match, hitting 31 against Monica Puig at the 2016 Australian Open. It’s an obvious difference from Karolina’s right-handed game, but it’s also the most significant, one that compels both sisters to insist that their games are different.

There’s just something about Czech lefties. Growing up together, Kristyna was the more highly-touted of the twins, and she made good on the hype when she won the 2010 Wimbledon junior title; Karolina won the Australian Open junior title that same year. En route, Kristyna beat the likes of Sloane Stephens and Yulia Putintseva, and later became the first of the sisters to crack the Top 100 on the WTA rankings. 

But the pro game brought different challenges, and it took Kristyna longer to find a level of consistency to build her ranking.

She finally got traction after the US Open. “I changed coaches because I spent a couple of months alone and it wasn’t working,” Kristyna told WTA Insider earlier this season. “I had no one to travel with. I went once with my father, once with my fitness coach, and it was a mess.

“During the US Open I found one coach, Martin Fassate. He was with Klara Koukalova and Petra Cetkovska, but Petra is injured. He has a lot of experience. He is really, really, really positive. That’s good for me. So we agreed to try in China. We won two tournaments out of three. Not bad.”

Kristyna Pliskova

“I think I’m improving [my] standard level,” she told reporters in Indian Wells. “So I’m not going one tournament good and then three tournaments, first round, which is perfect for me. I’m happy, but I need more matches with the Top 10 players so I can get used to them a bit too. I think out of the Top 20 and Top 30, I think I’m fine. Not every time, but I feel confident with them. But I think Top 10 is different so we will see on Sunday.”

On Sunday she takes on World No.5 Dominika Cibulkova, who survived a tough test against Jelena Ostapenko in the second round, winning in three sets. It will be her sixth career match against a Top 10 player and she’ll be looking for her first complete match win (she beat Belinda Bencic by retirement last year in Miami).

“I’ve never played her,” Kristyna said. “I will ask Karolina, maybe she will say something. But she has a bad [head-to-head] against her too. So maybe I’ll just stick to my plan. I think last time she won, but, like, five times she lost. Maybe I won’t even ask,” she said, laughing.

Asked whether she thinks playing a Top 10 player is a big jump up, Kristyna said it was more about the mental game. “I played Angelique Kerber in Melbourne and when you go there and play No.1, I just had that in my mind. So she had the first set for free because I had this in my mind.

“I don’t think they play any different level, especially with the girls it can change the ranking a lot,” she said. If you play Serena it’s different. But all the other players I think everybody can beat everybody.”

“My goal is to reach Top 20, but it’s not going to be easy I know, because I have a lot of points to defend in October. But that’s my goal for now.”

Kristyna may be champing at the bit to pit her game against the the game’s best, but there’s definitely one player she’s perfectly happy to avoid.

“Not my sister!”

The two have yet to play a tour-level match and were actually slated to potentially face off in the third round at Indian Wells, before Serena Williams withdrew and Karolina was shifted to a different quarter. It was a change that drew a sigh of relief from both sisters, who dreaded the thought of a showdown. That match may not happen here in Indian Wells, but with Kristyna’s continuing rise it will surely come sooner rather than later.

Asked point blank whether she thought she was as good as Karolina, Kristyna did not flinch. “Yes, I do. Maybe better.”

Kristyna Pliskova

Quick hits with Kristyna Pliskova:

WTA Insider: When did you first know you were good at tennis?
Kristyna: Well, I knew it since I was very little [laughs]. You just know. You just feel it, you can see it how you play. You never know when you’re 10 if you’re going to be really good. A lot of things can change. But when you play, you can feel it.

WTA Insider: When did you believe you could play tennis for a living?
Kristyna: With Karolina we were always traveling with mom since we were really small. We played a 10Ks in Croatia, where there were 128 in qualies. We had to win four rounds, I think? We always fought and we always knew were going to play, even if we made it when we were 18 or 19. I think we always believed.

WTA Insider: What was it like to transition from juniors to pros?
Kristyna: For us, I think it was better because we didn’t play that many junior tournaments. We played, since we were 16, 10ks, 25k ITF tournaments. So it really wasn’t that big of a change. The one year we played Grand Slams was just fun for us.

WTA Insider: What’s your favorite tournament?
Kristyna: Australian Open. It’s big. I like space. And the weather is nice and the staff is so nice.

WTA Insider: What tournament do you look forward to playing that you haven’t played?
Kristyna: I hope I can play Fed Cup one day. I think it can be soon.

Kristyna Pliskova

WTA Insider: What do you like least about being a pro tennis player?
Kristyna: What I don’t like? I don’t like changing the food when we go from different countries. I’m just used to eating what my mom cooks, or what I cook, or what my boyfriend cooks.

WTA Insider: Do you have any hobbies?
Kristyna: I like shopping.
WTA Insider: Who’s worse, you or Karolina?
Kristyna: I think she’s winning now so she she just buys, and buys, and buys. We went shopping the other day and she had like six bags and I had like four bags. I’m thinking more about the money [laughs]. But we are both bad.

WTA Insider: Do you have any favorite TV shows?
Kristyna: I’m watching The Bridge right now. When I can I like to read something or drawing. It’s more like coloring. It’s good for my mind. I’m not really into sightseeing. If I do something I go shopping, but not going places. But at home I like to go to my parents. They live outside the city and they have some animals. My father has some chickens and rabbits. I help to take care of them. I like nature.

WTA Insider: What app on your phone do you use the most?
Kristyna: WhatsApp. Definitely.
WTA Insider: Who do you text the most?
Kristyna: My boyfriend. And then Karolina. During tournaments we don’t text much. We try to talk a lot but we have different schedules. When we are home, kind of a lot. But with boyfriends, it’s different because they get mad [laughs].

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – They say a change is as good as a rest and the proverb certainly seems to ring true for Julia Goerges. The 28-year-old is enjoying one of her most successful starts to a season and is continuing to thrive under her coaching team of Michael Geserer and Florian Zitzelsberger, who came on board in the last year.

“I said I wanted to have a change and really get the best out of me in my last years of my career,” she said. “Hopefully I will play for many more years and I just wanted to get a different input and a different voice to hear but also working in a different way with a lot of different philosophies. I’m very happy with the way they are helping me and the way we are working together.”

Goerges, who reached a career high ranking of No.15 in March 2012, suffered a loss of form in 2013 and 2014 and although her results started to improve in 2015 she decided a split with Sascha Nensel, her coach of eight years, was necessary.

“Changing coaches gave me a different view on my job as well, to see things a bit differently,” continued Goerges. “For me as a human being I changed a lot, I’m much more positive in my personal life and this helps me on court. You see it from a different perspective which makes a tough situation sometimes easier because you appreciate what you have in the moment. It’s about being healthy and happy, at the end of the day it’s just a tennis match.”

As well as reaching the third round at Indian Wells, Goerges has recorded semifinal finishes at both Auckland and Budapest in 2017. Her run to the final four in Auckland included a win over world No.19 Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.

“I always do well in Auckland, I love the place,” said Goerges, who was a finalist there in 2016. “I love the Australian and New Zealand swing in general, the people are so nice and I just feel at home there, even though it’s so far away. There are a lot of Germans and the culture is pretty similar to Germany.”

Later that month Goerges defeated Katerina Siniakova in the first round of the Australian Open before losing to Jelena Jankovic. She was forced to retire during her opening Fed Cup match against CoCo Vandeweghe in Hawaii following a fall where she injured her left knee and also retired in the second round at Acapulco with heat illness.

“I did quite a trip from Budapest to Acapulco and arrived for the first round match six hours before. I still won it but the next day I got hit by my body,” said Goerges.

Goerges has also made the decision to substantially reduce the amount of doubles she plays in 2017. The German enjoyed considerable success on the doubles circuit in 2016, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon and qualifying for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global with Karolina Pliskova.

“Kaja [Karolina Pliskova] and me we decided to focus on singles,” explained Goerges. “We did very well last year but it was a lot of matches for both of us, she did even more in singles, so for me I said ‘ok I want to focus on singles as well’, so just playing a few [doubles] events, but a very few.”

Goerges seems happy and content and is evidently pleased with the way her tennis is progressing under Geserer and Zitzelsberger.

“It’s not about a win or a loss it’s about how you develop as a player and that is what I’m feeling is going well,” concluded Goerges. “Things are getting better and better and really coming together like a puzzle.”

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