London - Karolina Pliskova has never got past the second
round at Wimbledon in five main-draw appearances, but after a year to remember,
the towering Czech looks armed and ready for an assault on the title.
With Serena Williams out of the picture, the 25-year-old is
favourite with bookmakers to claim a maiden grand slam trophy at the All
England Club, and she certainly has the tools to make an impact on Wimbledon's
Armed with a bullet serve, a thunderous array of
groundstrokes and an ice cool on-court demeanour, she has become a serious
threat at the majors over the last 12 months.
She made her grand slam breakthrough with a run to the US
Open final last year, beating Serena along the way, and followed up by making
the quarterfinals in Australia and claiming two tour titles before going to the
There she reached the last four and was only a painful semi-final
defeat to Simona Halep away from becoming world No 1.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for a player who did not
get past the third round at a major in her first 17 main-draw appearances, and
it is testament to the work she has put in grinding her way up the rankings.
"Nothing comes easy. Maybe some players who are playing
the first grand slam in their life can go far," the world No 3 said at the
French Open. "But with me, it was just different. So I had to first play a
few more before I could go far."
While she may have had an impact at the other three slams,
she is still waiting for her breakthrough moment at Wimbledon, having never
made it into the second week in singles.
She has a number of weapons, however, that should be
well-suited to the grass including a firecracker serve, the staple of many
Wimbledon champions, launched from her imposing 1.86 metre frame.
She hammered down the most aces on the WTA Tour last year
with 530 from 61 matches, while she downed Serena in New York by winning 84
percent of points on her first serve.
Her whipped forehand can also cause serious damage even if
it is not always pin-point accurate as she showed in her semi-final defeat to
Halep in Paris.
That match, when Halep showed the full extent of her
defensive skills to outfox Pliskova in three sets, illustrated just how wayward
the Czech's wrecking-ball groundstrokes can be when she is put under pressure.
Pliskova made 55 unforced errors, with 24 coming in the
first set alone, against Halep, who was overwhelmed by the Czech's power in the
second set, but still came out on top.
And despite her icy demeanour, Pliskova can be hard on
herself when things start going wrong.
"I'm too negative sometimes," she said after
reaching the fourth round in Paris. "So I want too much sometimes, and
then I'm even missing even more than I would be missing. But we are trying to
When her game clicks, however, there are few more damaging
players currently in the women's game and after a long wait to get to the top,
she looks ready take the next step to becoming a grand slam champion.
"It took me some time (to challenge at the
majors)," she said at the French Open. "I'm just happy that I'm there