Australian Open

Pliskova says pressure took its toll

2017-01-25 10:14
Karolina Pliskova (Getty)

Melbourne - Karolina Pliskova said being seen as a tournament favourite put extra pressure on her at the Australian Open after she was upset on Wednesday in the quarter-finals by an emotional Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

The 24-year-old made the tennis world stand up and take notice when she powered to the US Open final last year, losing to world number one Angelique Kerber after beating Serena Williams in the semis.

It was a breakthrough for the big Czech, who until then had seemingly performed well everywhere but in the majors.

Her achievements saw her installed as fifth seed in Melbourne, and expectations only got higher when she won the lead-up Brisbane International.

But she said being expected to win matches was not always easy.

"It's not easy just to play another Grand Slam (after making a final)," she said. "And I was kind of favoured in every match here, so it's not easy.

"There was not one match where I played someone who is better (higher ranked) than me. Sometimes this is tougher than to play someone who is better."

She also had to battle crowd support for veteran Lucic-Baroni, who made her way to a first Grand Slam semi-final since Wimbledon in 1999 following years in the wilderness after personal issues derailed her career.

But Pliskova, who is projected to rise to world number four by making the quarters, said the unseeded Croat deserved her win.

"I think I could still play better, serve better and return better. But it's about also her game, it's not only about me this time," she said.

"I think she played just a little bit better, and I was just unlucky in the end. Overall on the serves and on the returns she was more aggressive. That's why she won."

Despite her last-eight exit, it was Pliskova's best performance at Melbourne Park and she said there were "definitely positives" to take from it.

"With the title in Brisbane, I think it was good start to the year," she said.

"It's always tricky to start a new year and it's the best start ever that I have had so far in a new season. Everything is working so far. So I think it's fine."

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