Saturday's Wimbledon final pits World No.1 Ashleigh Barty against No.8 seed Karolina Pliskova, a showdown between two of the winningest and most consistent players on tour over the past five years. On the eve of the biggest final, their coaches offered some insight. Despite their success and proven bona fides on grass, both women came into Wimbledon relatively under the radar.
As Craig Tyzzer explains, he was not sure if Barty's body would hold up after she retired from the second round of Roland Garros with a hip injury. And if she were fit enough, would her lack of matches on grass before Wimbledon hinder her ability to find her form?
For Team Pliskova, Sascha Bajin explained how he's worked to keep Pliskova, a former World No.1, in a positive frame of mind after her subpar results this season. Pliskova went 0-2 in her two grass-court events before Wimbledon, but Bajin was encouraged by what he saw in her first round at Wimbledon.
Here's a roundup from Coach's Media Day at Wimbledon, where 2018 WTA Coach of the Year Bajin and 2019 WTA Coach of the Year Tyzzer held court.
Craig Tyzzer on following up the disappointment at Roland Garros with a run to the Wimbledon final:
"I think we prepared really, really well for the French. One of the goals was to go there and obviously do well from what she'd done there in 2019. I actually felt she was in the best form I've seen her in prior to a tournament coming into that, the lead-up, all we'd done. It was a bit of a freakish thing that happened and put her out.
"It's been really different here. We weren't able to do a lot of court time in the buildup coming in on court. Did a lot of rehab and a lot of building her strength back up. So it's been a different preparation. I feel like it's built really well. It started a bit scratchy. Felt she played well in the first match. Didn't play so great in the second match. Played better in the third. It sort of got better each time.
"Sometimes it's hard to pick. I felt like the French was going to be a blinder for her, and it ended up not working out at all. We didn't know what to expect coming in here. It's been an amazing journey so far."
Sascha Bajin on telling Pliskova throughout the tournament that she could make the final:
"In all fairness, I don't want to sound cocky or anything like that, but if I don't believe in my player, then I must be doing something wrong.
"Maybe this time I was a little bit more vocal. I don't know why. It was after that first match against Zidansek. She was 2-5 down in the first set and something happened. It's very hard for me to explain. I saw something change. She got up off the chair, different look in her eyes, like a different player. It was something about her that changed.
"From that day I told her every day that we're going to be here two weeks later having this conversation. I'm just happy it worked out."
"As close to as good of a tennis match as I'll ever play."— wta (@WTA) July 8, 2021
The first Australian woman to reach the Wimbledon final since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 👏
🎥: @Wimbledon | @ashbartypic.twitter.com/zMhaG7bfB4
Tyzzer on Barty's childhood dream of winning Wimbledon:
"I think it's always been on her mind. It's probably on every tennis player's mind that this is the tournament they want to win. But to come out and say it is a big step. You put it out there.
"But Ash has been the sort of person who will put it on the line. She'll do her best. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. She's not afraid to try. If you get it wrong, you get it wrong. If you try and fail, that's still okay."
Bajin on changing his message after the Australian Open:
"In Australia, I felt like she wanted it so much. It's something she wanted so much. The problem becomes if you want something so much, it's just as bad as not wanting it enough. It kind of paralyzes you and it looks like you don't care, when it's the complete opposite.
"So my approach to Australia was, 'We're here, we're just going to take it one match at a time, not see it as anything different.' At the same time, I do believe that I would be kind of lying to her because it is.
"That's why this time, I kind of really was telling her, 'Listen, you're going to win this, you're going to be here for two weeks.' I wanted to put that in her mind every day with a tiny little input. At least it worked."
Bajin on what he's learned about the Czech mentality:
"I've learned that Czech mentality can be very stubborn, and it's OK sometimes to go through the door, not through the wall."
Tyzzer on what it's like being in the coaching box:
"I think once the match is underway, I'm actually pretty good. It's just for me, all the preparation leading up, then making sure I've covered whatever I can do for Ash in regard to her preparation coming into that particular match.
"I just really want no surprises when she walks out there. I'll watch the last few matches of the player she's going to play, and if there's any changes to the way they played, so Ash is sort of aware of that stuff. All I can do is give her all that information. Then we work towards a plan, some alternative plans.
"Really, once it gets underway, it's up to Ash out there to execute with what she sees. She's intelligent enough to read what's happening a lot of the time and know. Sometimes it's just out of your control and it just becomes frustration. I can't control any of that. I know that.
"So I just, like yesterday, sat back and watched just a great tennis match between two fantastic tennis players. Even though I'm on one side, it was just enjoyable to see both of them play such a high level, such a high standard."
Bajin on solving the Barty problem:
"Especially on grass, her slice is very effective. She has good volleys. She has this very good transition from baseline to volleys, which makes her very dangerous. She knows how to approach and cover the court.
"It's going to be tough because she puts a lot of variety in. The ball, obviously after the slice, it doesn't bounce as high as it is on hard court, making the slice here way more effective. So there's a lot of different things coming your way.
"It's just going to be about managing Karolina's nerves I think in the first place. But good thing is for us, at least, Ash has also not been in a Wimbledon final, and I hope she's going to be a little bit nervous, too. We'll see tomorrow."
Ashleigh Barty is bidding to become the 1st No.1 seed to win #Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) July 8, 2021
She is also aiming to become the 4th junior Wimbledon champion in the Open Era to win the Venus Rosewater Dish (Ann Jones, Martina Hingis, Amelie Mauresmo). pic.twitter.com/jjMG50zRFR