Karolina Pliskova, the WTA World No.3, has laughed off her 'ice queen' tag, explaining that she gets nervous and scared just like any other player.
A former World No.1, the Czech has picked up 16 career titles on the WTA Tour and has been noted for calm on-court demeanor as well as her big serving.
But while she gives opponents and fans the impression that she is immune to emotion in the midst of a match, she says that she is anything but.
“Of course I get nervous, scared. Annoyed a lot,” she told ‘Chatting with Daniela’, Roland Garros’ daily show.
“It’s strange because when I was young, let’s say 10 or 12, I broke so many racquets. My parents were like: ‘So when we buy racquets, don’t break them because it’s kind of expensive!’
“I was like: ‘OK, but once I buy them for myself or once I get it, I can break them!’
“I stopped it in the juniors. When we started playing in women’s tournaments, I just wanted to stay calm.
“It’s not that I don’t want to have emotions, I have so many emotions.
“People when they see me on TV they are like: ‘Come on, you’re completely frozen.’ Like an ice queen, they call me.
“Then they see me in real life and I’m laughing all the time and telling jokes, they’re like: ‘No, it’s not you, it’s not possible.’
“It’s me, but it’s my focus. It helps me not to panic and to stay calm. It’s not in my personality to tell some jokes on court – I would completely lose my focus and my game would go away completely, so that’s why I’m like this.”
The mental strength that she has cultivated over the years on court has helped her rationalize the current situation, which has seen the Tour suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“So far, so good. It’s starting to be a little bit too long, but I guess that’s the same for everyone,” Pliskova, who will take advantage of the unexpected break by running a coaching camp for kids, said.
“I’ve had two waves. The first was that I was excited to be at home, I was enjoying being at home, seeing my parents, and I was just doing my stuff at home, organizing my closet, normal things we never have time for. And then I started to get a bit bored and I still tried to practice, to exercise or to play tennis every day for one or two hours.
“It’s been about two months; I think I’m doing OK. I’ve started to do some other sports so I don’t get crazy from just going to the gym and playing tennis.
“It’s difficult for everyone, but you can find some positives from this situation. I’m seeing my parents like never before and my friends once per week. I’m like OK, this is the best time! I miss tournaments, I miss travelling. Hopefully everything will be better soon.”
Although clay has not traditionally been the Czech’s favored surface, she has missed this leg of the season.
“I always look forward to all the tournaments. One year is quite a long time because you already start to miss the place,” she said.
“I loved Rome last year, had great memories. I love Madrid, so it’s the whole clay season, although its not my best part of the year.
“I’ve done well in Paris, I think. Three years ago, I played the semifinal there. I love Paris and I love the city. There’s so much to do outside of the tennis. And the French people who come to support there are amazing.
“I’ve played on Centre Court a couple of times – Suzanne Lenglen and Philippe Chatrier – and I have great memories, so I miss it a lot but what can we do?”