BRISBANE, Australia - After years of confining her pre-season preparation to the Czech Republic, World No.8 Karolina Pliskova finished her solid 2018 season looking for a change. "Change" has been the watchword for Pliskova over the last six months, ever since the former No.1 suddenly found herself joyless and negative on court.
After an early exit at Wimbledon, Pliskova parted ways with her Czech coach Tomas Krupa, and by the US Open she had brought on two WTA veterans to her team in Rennae Stubbs and Conchita Martinez. The change in energy had an immediate impact, as Pliskova went on to finish her season by making the US Open quarterfinals, winning Tokyo, making the final in Tianjin, and a return to the semifinals at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
Pliskova finished the season confirming her plans to continue to work with Stubbs and Martinez through the Australian Open, and those plans have continued to come together for a full-season schedule, Pliskova's father also ready to fill the coaching role when needed.
"I'm going to the Middle East with her and Indian Wells and Miami, and then Paris," Stubbs told reporters at WTA Coaches Media Day at the Brisbane International. "And then the rest of that hard court season will be Conchita, because I'm going to be really busy at Wimbledon and the US Open Series and the US Open with ESPN.
"So it's kind of nice that she gets the different personalities with Conchi and me. Conchi works a lot on her feet and her fast hands and things like that, because that's really what Conchi did so well. And I'm a little bit more transitional work, coming into the net, serve.
"So she's got sort of the best of both worlds, like working on the things to make her better. I think she enjoys that, too, just hearing a different voice, because hearing the same person over and over again telling you the same thing gets kind of monotonous and boring. And Kaja is that type of person that gets tired of the same voice."
Monotony is precisely what Pliskova has worked to avoid. For the first time in her career she spent her pre-season outside of the Czech Republic, opting to do three weeks in Tenerife with Martinez and her new fitness trainer.
"I felt like I needed to leave because every year I would train in Czech and I was always felt sick and tired," Pliskova told WTA Insider in Brisbane. "At 4:00 pm it's dark. At 8:00 am it's dark. I didn't feel motivated.
"This time I enjoyed it so much. It was a lot of work but I had so much fun. Those three weeks went so quickly for me.
Después de una semana a tope, ¡domingo marino! 🌊💦 pic.twitter.com/b21JEyLfuk
— Conchita Martínez (@conchitamartinz) December 16, 2018
"Conchita is very strict. She was behind me all the time after every shot, but I think I needed this.
"We'll see. I'm not expecting anything huge now, because I didn't play many points. Everything needs a little more time to get into rhythm, but maybe later in the season. But you never know."
Pliskova has reunited with Stubbs this week in Brisbane and despite having just a handful of jet-lagged days together, Stubbs says she's pleased by what she's seen.
"That's the one thing that I wish I had a little bit more time with her, in the off-season, but having said that, Conchita and I, we talked quite extensively about what we wanted to work on, what our thought process was and what we felt she needed to get better at and what did she think, and everything that she thought is what I thought," Stubbs said. "So I was like, okay, I'm just going to leave it to you and not get too involved overly in what's happening and video it and send it to me, because I trust Conchita, and vice versa. We've spoken a little bit since I've been here. That's the nice thing about the collaborative work with the two of us is that we don't have any egos with this thing.
"Listen, Conchita and I both have egos, but when it comes to what's best for Karolina, it's what's best for her."