SINGAPORE - Former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova will have a keen eye on Friday’s Red Group matches between Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka, and Kiki Bertens, but not merely to scout her potential semifinal opposition at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
“I just enjoy the game,” she said after earning a first career victory over countrywoman Petra Kvitova on Thursday. “Maybe sometimes I enjoy more to watch than to play, but only sometimes. Since I was little I was watching tennis. For me, it's better than any movie.”
The WTA Finals’ high-caliber field and unique format is of particular interest to Pliskova, who has watched nearly ever match through the round robin stage.
“All the matches are tough, so you don't really have any guess who's going to win. To the last point it's not clear. And there is not really that big difference in the rankings, so everybody can beat everybody here, so it's fun to watch for me.
“I think the group is actually very close, because all the players are similar. I think Naomi [Osaka] didn't play that well. She pretty much was close in all her matches, but for me, the surface, is not easy for the attacking players here, because it's just a little bit slower, so they miss more a little bit.”
She did, however, draw the line at staying up to watch the late night finish to the Stephens-Bertens clash.
“I was not surprised,” she said of the former US Open champion’s 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3 comeback. “I thought she was gonna win it, from the very beginning of the match. I think she's actually playing well here. For me, she's the best from the group, and she can, depends on her mood, but she can be very tough and very good player.”
Predicting Stephens and Kerber to make it into the semifinals - “but I’m not that great at guessing!” - the perennial Ace Leader finds great entertainment in the WTA tour’s more unpredictable nature, and putting her own insider insights to the test when handicapping intriguing match-ups.
“I think everybody has a chance to win. Doesn't matter which ranking you are. Doesn't matter you didn't play for a year. Doesn't matter how bad you feel. There is no time limit, so you can play till whatever time, and even if it's 2-6, 1-5, you can still win the match. There are a lot of strange moments in tennis.
“You feel when there is a chance that some outsider is gonna beat a top player. I know some players are very tricky and very tough, and they can beat top players sometimes on Grand Slams or big tournaments.”
Pliskova will play one of the four Red Group players during Semifinal Saturday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.