WIMBLEDON, England — Karolina Pliskova was pleased with how she had performed within the Wimbledon last on Saturday, regardless of a disastrous begin — she misplaced the primary 14 factors of the match — and the truth that it led to a 6-Three, 6-7 (four), 6-Three loss to Ashleigh Barty.
Where Pliskova upset herself, she mentioned, was after the match. “I never cry — never!” Pliskova mentioned as she started tearing up through the trophy ceremony. “And now?”
In her information convention greater than an hour later, Pliskova mentioned that she had “never had a better moment in my career” and that she had been “more sensitive than I normally am” after receiving enthusiastic assist from the gang and the runner-up plate from Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
“I feel like, OK, cry in the locker room, but not on the court,” Pliskova mentioned, chiding herself additional. “Somehow, I could not. The people, they cheered so much. Just too many emotions.”
Tennis, as Pliskova is aware of nicely, provides harsh extremes of success and failure. A complete of 128 ladies begin a draw, and that quantity is halved in every spherical till just one stays to carry the trophy. The different 127 go away as losers.
“We both tried to win, so somebody has to lose,” Pliskova mentioned with a small shrug. “You have to simply accept that. I’ll, positively.
“I understand how to lose, consider me,” she added with a chuckle. “I’m so good in that.”
Pliskova’s profession is, by some chilly metrics, disappointing. She has performed in the principle singles draw of a Grand Slam match 36 occasions, 21 of these as a top-10 seed, and has but to win a title. In her one earlier look in a last, at the 2016 U.S. Open, Pliskova led Angelique Kerber, 3-1, in the third set before the German surged back to win the title.
But Pliskova has also reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings, having spent eight weeks in the top spot in 2017, which proves to be a rarer achievement. Since the rankings began in November 1975, only 27 women have reached No. 1, while 51 women have won major singles titles.
“I realized now, in the last two years, that even if I don’t win a Grand Slam, there are some girls that they win one and then they never win anything anymore — they are not even top 10; they can’t hold the level,” Pliskova said in an interview earlier this week. “Honestly, I don’t know what’s better. And with age, I somehow appreciate the level which I’ve been able to hold more. Maybe that’s even more difficult than to just have an amazing two weeks once in life.”
In a time of instability in women’s tennis and myriad two-week wonders, Pliskova has proved to be a paragon of consistency. Last week she slipped out of the top 10 for the first time in 230 weeks; next week, on the strength of her run to the final, she will return.
Though Pliskova made her top-10 debut less than five years ago, her staying power clearly left an outsize impression on Barty, who guessed that Pliskova had been “one of the most consistent on the tour” for a range of “five or 10 years.”
“A lot of the time, I feel like she’s underestimated,” Barty said of Pliskova. “She is one hell of a competitor. She wants it extremely badly. She fights so hard for every point. She’s genuinely invested absolutely 100 percent in every point. You have to bring your best and be engaged for the whole match to compete with her.”
Barty, who has won both major finals she has contested, gave Pliskova a vote of confidence. “She’s always been there, always been knocking on the door, always giving herself the opportunity,” Barty said. “I know that Grand Slam title for her is not far away.”
Though players are contending deep into their 30s more than ever before, it is impossible to know how many more opportunities will come for Pliskova, 29, who remains the only active player in men’s or women’s tennis to have reached No. 1 without having won a Grand Slam tournament.
For Amelie Mauresmo, Simona Halep and Kim Clijsters, a first Grand Slam title came within a couple of years of their reaching the top spot in the rankings.
For Caroline Wozniacki, who first reached No. 1 in 2010, a Grand Slam title did not come until 2018.
And for some other top-ranked players, like Marcelo Rios, Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic, it never came at all.
“Of course my dream is always going to be now, forever, to win the Grand Slam — I’m trying to do that since I started actually to play tennis,” Pliskova said. “Of course I’ve reached some goals which I always wanted. This is going to be, always, my goal for now.”
Pliskova said that the run at Wimbledon would give her “more trust, more belief, more of everything to go in the next Grand Slams,” starting with next month’s U.S. Open. “There’s still a chance,” she said. “I played the final there, so it’s not impossible. I will always try, so let’s see.”
Pliskova’s hunger remains, but so too does her ability to cope with disappointment, which is a skill she said “all the big champions and all the big names” had needed to learn.
“To accept that maybe somebody played better that day, or somebody is a bit better, for no matter for which reason, I think is also important,” Pliskova said. “Yeah, I know how to do that.”