2017 WTA Finals Player Profile: Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova will look to battle for the WTA Finals title in Singapore after an impressive season thus far but faces some tough competition ahead.

2017 WTA Finals Player Profile: Karolina Pliskova
Karolina Pliskova holding her number one trophy in Toronto | Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images North America

Ascending to the number one spot earlier this year in July, Karolina Pliskova has solidified her status as one of the game’s best players after qualifying for the year-end WTA Finals once again. The hard-hitting Czech will be back to vie for the title, with an outside chance of ending the year as the top-ranked player, but she looks to claim the title in this wide-open competition.

Notable Results to Date

Pliskova had the perfect start to the year, entering the Australian Open as a huge favorite after claiming the title in Brisbane, but fell in the quarterfinals. Her impressive run continued with yet another Premier title in Doha before semifinal runs in both Indian Wells, falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Miami, where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki.

Karolina Pliskova with her title in Brisbane, one of her three Premier titles this year | Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac
Karolina Pliskova with her title in Brisbane, one of her three Premier titles this year | Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac

Although it was her least preferred surface, Pliskova still managed to excel on clay as she managed to reach quarterfinals in Stuttgart and Rome respectively, before clinching her best result at Roland Garros with a surprise run to the semifinals, being just a game away from the top ranking.

The grass court season was considered bittersweet for the Czech, having won her third title of the year in Eastbourne before crashing out in the second round of the Wimbledon Championships to eventual semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova. However, Pliskova was able to ascend to the top spot for the first time in her career after Simona Halep failed to reach the semifinals.

Pliskova had a fair US Open Series, reaching the quarterfinals in Toronto before a semifinal appearance in Cincinnati, where she was the defending champion. The Czech was also defending finalist points at the US Open, but she fell in the quarterfinals to home favorite Coco Vandeweghe which eventually allowed Garbine Muguruza to take the top spot after the fortnight.

The Asian Swing was largely lackluster in Pliskova's standards, but she was still able to make two quarterfinals before entering the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Karolina Pliskova celebrates winning a point at the US Open, but that wasn't enough as the Czech soon lost her number one ranking | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Karolina Pliskova celebrates winning a point at the US Open, but that wasn't enough as the Czech soon lost her number one ranking | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

Best WTA Finals Result

This will only be Pliskova’s second appearance at the WTA Finals. The Czech first made her debut in Singapore last year, after she broke the duck and reached her first Grand Slam final at the US Open.

She started her 2016 campaign in the toughest way possible, losing a huge lead and ultimately fended off a couple of match points to defeat fellow former world number one Garbine Muguruza in her first match. However, Pliskova went winless in her next matches as she fell to an inspired Svetlana Kuznetsova in a three-set heartbreaker before falling to nemesis Agnieszka Radwanska to exit the tournament.

Karolina Pliskova would be looking for more success in Singapore | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac
Karolina Pliskova would be looking for more success in Singapore | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac

Results entering Singapore

Pliskova has had a disappointing Asian Swing, with the Czech being unable to find her best tennis. The former world number one fell to an inspired Angelique Kerber at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, before putting up some impressive performances against Zhang Shuai and Wang Qiang to make the last eight at the Wuhan Open, where she fell to eventual finalist Ashleigh Barty.

The current world number four enters Singapore with a lackluster showing at the China Open, where she made the third round after suffering a surprising loss to Sorana Cirstea despite some good wins over Andrea Petkovic and Carla Suarez Navarro earlier. Pliskova would be looking to get past the round-robin stage in Singapore for the first time in her career and reach her first semifinal since the Western and Southern Open.

Karolina Pliskova looks in frustration at the China Open, where she lost to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac
Karolina Pliskova looks in frustration at the China Open, where she lost to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac

Head to Head against the rest of the field

Pliskova has an impressive 21-16 win-loss record against the rest of the field, only lacking behind Venus Williams in the win percentage. The Czech dominates her head-to-head against Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina, who are both in the running for the number one ranking in Singapore. However, Pliskova struggles against the current number one Simona Halep and former number one Caroline Wozniacki, losing five matches to them each. She also leads her head-to-head against Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia.

How Pliskova’s game translates to the surface

The indoor hard courts in Singapore has a surprisingly slow speed, which could bother hard-hitting players like Pliskova. Nonetheless, the Czech should still aim to dictate play throughout all the rallies and utilize the angles on her groundstrokes well.

Karolina Pliskova has a 1-2 career record at the WTA Finals | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac
Karolina Pliskova has a 1-2 career record at the WTA Finals | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac

The former world number one’s serve seems to be powerful, but the secret to her consistent serving is the spin, slice and angles she adds to her lethal weapon, allowing her to lead the tour in terms of the number of aces served. Pliskova often struggles against players who are more powerful than her, and therefore she should attempt to be more solid on the defense, or perhaps aim to put herself in fewer situations where she needs to defend.

Furthermore, Pliskova will work with Rennae Stubbs during the Championships, and this star partnership could prove to be really fruitful, with the Australian being able to share her experience of winning the year-end Championships in doubles with the Czech.

Karolina Pliskova in action at the 2016 WTA Finals, where she fell in the round-robin | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac
Karolina Pliskova in action at the 2016 WTA Finals, where she fell in the round-robin | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac