LONDON (Reuters) – Karolina Pliskova’s name was not exactly in the mix of potential Wimbledon winners for 2021, with her ranking sliding and her Grand Slam runs ending rather early over the past two season.
The absence of holder Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka left the women’s field wide open but even then the list of those capable of lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish come July 10 did not include the statuesque 6-foot-1 Czech who once topped the rankings.
While the 29-year-old had made it to the semis or better at the other three majors, the last of those deep runs was at the Australian Open in 2019.
Hence, with her confidence at an all-time low, even Pliskova has been left pleasantly surprised after she made it to the last four at Wimbledon at the ninth time of asking with victory over little-known Swiss Viktorija Golubic on Tuesday.
“It means a lot… especially after not really having many good weeks before Wimbledon, it feels like bit of a dream,” said Pliskova, who fell out of the WTA’s top 10 for the first time since 2016 on the opening day of the grasscourt major.
“I believed at some point I would find my game. I’m just happy it worked out well in these two weeks. Of course Wimbledon was my last Grand Slam missing the semi-final (appearance), so I’m happy now I have all of them.”
But after a stupendous serving performance in her opening five matches, Pliskova will be confident of toppling second-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at the third time of asking.
The Czech tops the women’s ace count for the tournament with 40, including the eight she belted down on Tuesday, and has a success rate of winning 81% of points on her first serve.
Having been broken just three times in 45 service games over five matches, she will be eager to boss around an opponent who will be contesting her first Grand Slam semi.
“I’m playing quite well, super solid, serve is working. Of course, I have the confidence in me. If I can play like this, that’s why I’m here,” added Pliskova, whose best showing at a Grand Slam is a runner-up finish at the 2016 U.S. Open.
“In the beginning of the tournament everybody talks, you hear so many different opinions. Of course, it’s really tough to believe that you can do well, especially if the weeks before were not so good.
“I’m just happy I managed somehow to stay out of this, like in my own bubble, just trust it.”
After ticking off her Court One outing as “almost perfect” she no longer wants to get distracted by things that bothered her in the past, such as not being scheduled to play on the two main showcourts at this year’s championships before Tuesday.
“I don’t want to complain about my courts because so far I won on all of them,” she said with a laugh.
“I said before that I don’t think the schedule was right.
“Doesn’t matter now I guess. If I’m in the semi-final, now they can put me on Court 12!”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris)