BRISBANE, Australia - David Kotyza knows a thing or two about grooming hard-hitting Czech champions. The man who helped guide Petra Kvitova to two Wimbledon titles and a career-high ranking of No.2 sees something special in World No.6 Karolina Pliskova -- so much so that he switched up his plans to stay home in the Czech Republic to see if he could help Pliskova put the puzzle pieces together and become a major player.
WTA Insider sat down with Kotyza at the Brisbane International to discuss the fateful phone call that lured him out of his domesticated state, and why he believes Pliskova has that champion's quality.
WTA Insider: It's good to see you back.
Kotyza: I didn't expect I'd be here so soon because I had different plans for this season after I finished with Caroline Wozniacki. I planned to stay more home. I planned to coach Czech girls but be home more and to travel only for a couple of tournaments, because we have a three-year-old son and waiting for another one, expecting in June.
But...somebody called me [laughs], which was really for me a surprise. But my first feeling was, 'I want to take it.' So that's what I did and that's why I'm here.
WTA Insider: Why Karolina? What makes you think this was worth changing your plans?
Kotyza: Because I followed not only her results but also her style of the game and personality a little bit, because I knew her from Fed Cup also. For me, she's an interesting person and I feel she can really be a champion. So that's what's interesting for me, to work with such a great personality.
We just started. We'll try to get to know each other better, but...I feel something.
WTA Insider : Her game must look very familiar to you...
Kotyza: Right-handed, left-handed. PK and now KP [laughs]. Of course it's a small advantage because I was together with Petra for more than seven years. So this style of the game - the personality who wants to decide the game, to take responsibility for the points - that's what I like. I think that is a small advantage for me at the beginning.
WTA Insider: You coached Petra starting when she was young. We all know the story, that you gave Petra a questionnaire and she impressed you. This is a different situation with Pliskova. She's older and a more fully developed player and person.
Kotyza: I don't know if I'm able to speak about her personality because we just started months ago. The questionnaire was also there, a little different - because that's the most important thing for me, to know the person and also the parents and also the people around the player, like the fitness guys.
For me this is a little different style of work than that time with Petra because Petra was 18 years old, while Karolina is 24. I think she's now more like my partner. I think she's very educated in the game so we can speak very often about the tactics, about technique, how to improve her game. For me, that's inspiration because I have to learn a different style of communication.
Hear Kotyza discuss his work and development with Kvitova in an Insider Podcast from 2015):
Q: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for you to improve Karolina's game? Is it tactical, physical, or mental?
A: I think that's the puzzle. You must set all the pieces together. I cannot speak about tactics without the right technique and I cannot ask for the right technique without the physical. I'm very happy she's working with two Slovak guys on her physical part. What I saw up to now is they did a great job. We have the same view about her and that's very important. Then we can set some small technical and tactical patterns.
The first thing I did was an analysis of her matches, a lot of her matches. I sat with a guy in Czech with a lot of statistics. Because on one side you have some feelings but the numbers are different. But the numbers don't lie. It's the truth. So it's a little bit gambling between the statistics and my feelings and her feelings and it's this mix of soup [laughs].
Q: After you stopped working with Caroline, how much were paying attention to the tour?
A: Not much, because my son was starting to go to nursery school and my wife went to work, so I had a full-time job at home. I was really very happy.
But I asked myself, 'If you don't take this, what does it take? All around the world, who has to call you? Come on, David.' So my first impression was, 'Hey, wake up.'
So I spoke to my wife as well because it's not an easy life on tour because it's a lot of travel. But I think we will find some balance because I don't want to be everywhere and I think she's adult enough to travel alone or with the fitness guys or her father. So I think we will find a good mix of everything.
Q: Well it's great to have you back on tour.
A: We'll see. We just started, you know how it is. But in this moment, I'm very happy that I can work with this girl.
Hear the full interview on the Insider Podcast below:
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All photos courtesy of Getty Images.