Coming into the 2016 US Open, the 11th-ranked Karolina Pliskova was the only player in the top-20 of WTA rankings not to have progressed beyond the 4th round of a Grand Slam event. Even more surprisingly, she has been taking part in Grand Slams regularly since 2012 French Open. The 6’1” tall Czech girl was seen by many as not possessing the mental strength needed to shine on big occasions – her 6 WTA titles and a career-high ranking of No.7 notwithstanding. Her Grand Slam record was abysmal and she knew it herself.
But 13 days into the 2016 US Open, the lanky Pliskova has all but silenced her doubters after managing to reach the US Open final. What 4th round voodoo? As she prepares to face the new World No.1 Angelique Kerber, critics are giving serious thought to her chances of emerging victoriously. But judging by her previous performances in Grand Slams, she should be a pushover for the likes of Kerber who is playing the best tennis of her career and has reached her 3rd major final in 2016.
What makes Pliskova a serious challenger on Saturday? Let’s take a look at moments which made the world sit up and take note of her.
5) Pliskova Scalps Ivanovic at Flushing Meadows
Though she has generally struggled in Grand Slams, 2014 was a breakthrough year for her. Not only did she break into the top-50 rankings, she also took down 9th seed Ana Ivanovic in the 2nd round of the US Open. She hit 25 winners, a majority of them from her forehand as she cruised to a 7-5, 6-4 win, thereby announcing herself to the world. It was also her best performance at a major back then.
She was part of a new wave of Czech girls making a mark in Tennis with the likes of Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova & Barbara Strycova. This game was also the 2nd time she scalped a top-10 player but this was a bigger stage.