PARIS, France - If tennis can sometimes feel all-consuming for the elite players on the WTA Tour, imagine also being married to your manager. Some days, Karolina Pliskova has to be strict: she must tell her husband that she doesn't want to talk about tennis that night.
How she needs a day off from discussing her game, her next opponent, or her media appearances or commitments to her sponsors. How she needs to switch off for an evening. By Pliskova's own admission, it was challenging after marrying Michal Hrdlicka in Monte Carlo last July to separate their personal lives from their professional lives. "To be honest, it was tough in the beginning," Pliskova, the champion at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, disclosed in an interview with wtatennis.com.
Pliskova and Hrdlicka's romantic relationship began before their business partnership - around two years ago, and after they had become a couple, she hired him as her manager in the Czech Republic, to help her to deal with the media and sponsors, and to organise her daily schedule.
"It was new for him, and it was also new for me. I had never previously worked with someone who was my family. In the beginning, it was tough, because we both needed to find a way of dealing with it and experiencing it, and how to work together. We share everything. It's not like we were fighting in the beginning, but there are some days when I'm tired and I've been playing too much and I don't want to talk about tennis and work," the Czech said ahead of the French Open.
"Now it's good. Now we have found a balance between relationship and work. When we are at home, we often talk about tennis, and there are days when I like to talk about tennis. But there are also days when I don't like to talk about tennis, or sponsors, because he's my manager so he does a lot of things for me.
"When I don't want to talk about this, I tell him and he says OK. I have to be strict, but I don't say it in a bad way. I say: 'Let's talk about this tomorrow, and give me a day off today.' And he agrees that we shouldn't talk about it. Of course, there are other days when we need to deal with stuff and that's fine, but we needed to find a balance."
That balance helped Pliskova to score the biggest clay title of her career at Rome's Foro Italico, for her second tournament victory of the season. That put her in an exclusive club - so far, only Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens have won multiple titles on the WTA Tour this year.
Pliskova's husband achieved some fame this year because of his wild celebrations - jumping up and down inside the Australian Open's Rod Laver Arena - after she had come back from 1-5 down in her quarter-final against Serena Williams, including saving four match points.
"That video went everywhere. He was more famous than me after I beat Serena," Pliskova said. "It was maybe a little bit too much, but it wasn't a surprise to me as I know he's very emotional. I'm the quieter one, and I don't celebrate that much, it's more inside me, but he celebrates a lot. I knew he was this way. With that kind of match it's understandable that he had those feelings and became very emotional. But I didn't expect that it would be that much."
Michal's support helped her to achieve that remarkable triumph against Williams.
"His support means so much to me. You don't always win these kind of matches but just to know he is there supporting, even when things aren't going well, and he is there believing, that helps me to fight a little bit more. I won't give up. I need that support. For me, the support is so important - it can help me to turn matches around," Pliskova said.
Beating Williams in that fashion will always stay with Pliskova; she will draw on the memories of that match for the rest of the season, and also beyond.
"I will never forget that match. It was a good quality match, even when I was down. Even if I had lost, it still would have been a good match, and I would have lost to Serena Williams, which is OK," said Pliskova.
"To win like that, it was very important, especially as it came in the beginning of the year. At the start of the year, I always feel as though I need to have some tough matches, with some three-setters, because it helps me the rest of the season. But this match won't just help me this year, but also in seasons to come. I think that match will stay in my mind forever."