Karolina Pliskova isn't going to spend any time feeling sorry for herself. The former No.1 and two-time major finalist has been a regular in the Top 10 for the past eight years and, until this past December, had enjoyed a relatively injury-free career. But a freak accident in the gym during the off-season resulted in a broken arm, and the 30-year-old Czech had to put off the start of her season for two months.
Now ranked No.7, Pliskova returned in Indian Wells and Miami. She earned her first win of the season this week at the Credit One Charleston Open.
Pliskova spoke to WTA Insider ahead of Charleston to discuss her positive mindset as she kicks off her season and what it was like to miss her favorite part of the year,. She also revealed where she was and what she thought when she got the news of Ashleigh Barty's retirement.
WTA Insider: How are you feeling as you get back into the swing of things?
Pliskova: I feel good. I have to say the wrist is quite holding up. I didn't really expect it because I didn't really practice full. I would normally practice for a month but I just had a couple of days of really good practice before coming to Indian Wells. The serve was the biggest issue.
But yeah, I think things are going quite well. I just try to take the positives out of it, that I'm able to play after a couple months. It's been too long for me because with the offseason together, I missed four or five months. I know I'm not the player which can have five months at home and then I come in and win a tournament. I need some time to go through the feelings and the matches. I know it's going to take time, but just happy to be back.
Some days are worse than others. Unfortunately I will be out for a while and will not compete at my favorite tournaments in Australia 😔 But time and believe can heal everything.— Karolina Pliskova (@KaPliskova) December 16, 2021
Bohužel i takové dny někdy jsou. Na chvíli bez tenisu a bez Austrálie, ale čas a vůle vše spraví ♥️💪 pic.twitter.com/Eqe5v8P5tV
WTA Insider: It was tricky for you because a broken arm is not a standard tennis injury. What was it like managing that and rehabbing to get back?
Pliskova: It was tough because people who follow tennis or me, they know I don't really have injuries. Even if I feel something, I still play. I never skip anything, not even practice or a tournament. The only break I had was this Covid break and I don't think that helped me. This injury was a bit more serious because I could not use my arm. I had a cast for a month or two. So it was quite a difficult time.
But being unlucky, I was lucky. I didn't have to have surgery. I broke it quite clean. I was doing a lot of fitness, so I was going crazy. I was actually happy that I could start to play and do something different. Too much fitness was killing me.
WTA Insider: During the Covid break everyone had to stop. But this was the first time you had an extended break while everyone was still playing. What was that like?
Pliskova: It was no fun at all because if it's the end of the year or even the middle of the year, it's different. It killed me that I was not in Australia because it's my favorite part.
I really had a good year last year. I was was quite pumped. I thought I could actually have a good start, and normally I always play well and Australia. So I was super sad about this. If it was Indian Wells and Miami I would be OK. But Australia, I missed it.
But anyway, it is how it is. I just tried to keep things together and try to entertain myself. It was also nice to be home. I'm not really a home person. So it's not I would want to be home. I would travel a bit to not be in one place all the time. I also had Covid. So I was like, "OK, everything is happening me now (laughs)." So I hope all the bad things are now gone and the good things can come.
WTA Insider: There's a lot of hard work that goes into having an injury-free career but also a lot of luck. Did this feel like the bad luck had finally found you?
Pliskova: I don't see it as bad luck at all because there is a lot worse, especially when you see what is happening now in Europe. Maybe this was bad luck because it's not a tennis injury. This was really a stupid injury.
But anyway, I never had anything and I think I was lucky enough to already have that many years in a row of not really being injured and not skipping anything. I think this was actually the first time when I skipped more than one tournament. I would maybe withdraw from tournaments, but not because of injury. Maybe because I was tired or I just didn't want to play, but not because I had to withdraw because I could not play. That was never the case.
But I don't see it as bad luck at all because that's just how it is. I suppose the career goes like this. I think there is no career that just goes for 20 years without any ups and downs. I missed it because I know it takes me some time to get back. I don't feel the tournament rhythm immediately. But anyway, I think that's how it is. I could find some positive things from it.
Look how positive I am right now (laughs). I'm just a different person. Just wait until I lose more (laughs).
WTA Insider: What was your reaction to the Barty news?
Pliskova: I was shocked because I'm not really on Twitter because I don't want to get too much information for myself. But somebody messaged me and said, "Oh, did you see the news?" It was 11:00 in the evening in Miami. I was like, "No, no, did somebody cry again or something?" They said, "No, no, Ashleigh, she stopped." I'm like, "No way, that's not possible. Tell me the reason."
I understand everybody's different. For me, it's not understandable at all because I just like the game so much. But I understand somebody maybe suffers, somebody doesn't like to travel. She basically won everything that she wanted to win, I suppose maybe she had no motivation. If you hate this tennis life and it's not what you always wanted to do, I think it's good to stop.
But I was surprised and shocked. I thought she was a really good number one for our sport and she was there for a while. Of course now, Iga is a really good player, but I just thought Ashleigh was a good person and she had good charisma. I'm going to miss her.
But you never know. I think maybe she's going to come back. And then she's just going to be 27.