WTA

Pliskova cannot comprehend Barty's retirement but thinks Australian will return

By Sports Desk April 08, 2022

Karolina Pliskova believes Ash Barty could return to tennis following her surprise retirement in March, but the Czech acknowledged she could not relate to the decision as she "likes the game too much".

Barty became just the second player to call quits on their playing career when ranked as world number one, after Justine Henin, with a shock announcement last month.

The 25-year-old cited a lack of "physical drive and emotional want" to compete despite claiming her second grand slam title at the Australian Open just two months before.

However, just as Henin did after retiring, former world number one Pliskova has a feeling that Barty, who defeated her in the 2021 Wimbledon final, may also return to the court in future.

"I was shocked because I'm not really on Twitter because I don't want to get too much information for myself," Pliskova told the WTA on Barty's retirement.

"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 [Swiatek] 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."

Meanwhile, Pliskova is focusing on her comeback as she continues to recover from a freak gym accident that resulted in a broken arm, which delayed the start of her new campaign by two months.

The 30-year-old, who has reached two major finals, made an encouraging return as she defeated Ukraine's Katarina Zavatska at Charleston Open but fell to Ekaterina Alexandrova on Friday.

"It was tough because people who follow tennis or me, they know I don't really have injuries," she added. "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.

"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."

Related items

  • Wimbledon: 'For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going' – Nadal looks forward to quarter-final Wimbledon: 'For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going' – Nadal looks forward to quarter-final

    Rafael Nadal spoke about how he is fighting against his physical decline after defeating Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6) to advance to the Wimbledon quarter-final.

    It was Nadal's second consecutive straight sets win after dropping a set to both Ricardis Berankis and Francisco Cerundolo in his first two rounds.

    After not competing at Wimbledon since reaching the semi-final in 2019, Nadal is back as he tries to keep his dreams of a calendar slam alive, having won the Australian Open and the French Open already this year.

    Speaking to the media after his fourth-round win, the Spaniard declined to give detail about his injuries, saying he is "healthy enough to keep going".

    "I am a little bit tired of talking about my body," he said. "It's not that I don't want to answer the question, but at the same time, sometimes I am tired of myself, and all the issues I'm having.

    "I'd prefer to not talk about it now – I'm sorry for that – but I am in the middle of the tournament, and I have to keep going. 

    "All respect to the rest of my opponents, I am just trying my best every single day, and for the moment I am healthy enough to keep going, and to fight for the things that I want."

    He added: "I think I made a big effort to be here.

    "It takes a lot of mental and physical effort to try to play this tournament after the things I went through the last couple of months.

    "But as everybody knows, Wimbledon is a tournament that I like so much, and it's been three years without playing here. I really wanted to be back, and that's what I'm doing, so that's why it means so much to be in the quarter-finals."

    Nadal did not want to get into a discussion about his physical struggles, but it was unavoidable when he was asked about how his grass-court play has evolved over the years.

    "I won here in 2008, and I played the final in 2006 and 2007," he said. "So I have to say that during that period of time there were a lot of things I did well [on grass courts].

    "At very early stages of my career I was able to play very well on this surface too, but of course I am running less than before, that is obvious.

    "When I am losing things, in terms of physical performance, you need to add things to keep being competitive. That's what I did all my career, try to add things to my game, and improve things I need to still be competitive after losing some physical capacities, and other things you lose during your career.

    "At the same time, one of the things I'm more proud of is the way I've been able to adjust and accept the challenges in terms of physical issues, and to be able to always find a way to be competitive and improve my game."

    Looking forward to his quarter-final clash with American Taylor Fritz – who defeated Nadal in the final of the Indian Wells Masters back in March – the legend said he was in too much pain during that contest to learn any lessons.

    "Honestly, what I learned out at our last match was zero, because I had a stress fracture in my rib," he said. "That made it difficult to learn many things, because honestly the pain was terrible playing that match. 

    "He's playing at a very, very high level, having a great season, winning matches everywhere, and you can see it. He won the tournament last week – the week before Wimbledon – and now the quarter-finals, winning already in a Masters 1000, he's in a very high position in the race already."

    He added: "At the same time, we're in a quarter-final, so you can't expect an easy opponent."

  • Wimbledon: 'I've come a long way, that's for sure' – Kyrgios feels he is a changed man Wimbledon: 'I've come a long way, that's for sure' – Kyrgios feels he is a changed man

    Nick Kyrgios reflected on what he feels is a new-found maturity after defeating Brandon Nakashima to earn his spot against Cristian Garin in the Wimbledon quarter-final.

    The 27-year-old Australian needed five sets to make it past the 20-year-old American, eventually winning 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2.

    In a match that was far from smooth sailing, Kyrgios needed a medical timeout following the first set to deal with some shoulder discomfort that has flared up since his fiery win against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    Speaking to the media after his success, Kyrgios said everyone is dealing with niggling injuries this deep into a grand slam, but he is proud of the way he has handled adversity this time around.

    "I woke up after Tsitsipas and had some shoulder pain," he said. "I’ve played so much tennis over the last month and a half that I felt it was about time for my body to start feeling some niggles. 

    "I don’t think anybody is feeling 100 per cent at this time, Rafa – you see him dealing with something all the time – so it’s something I just manage. Mentally, I think I deal with these things a lot better now. 

    "I knew today I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, but mentally I stayed quite calm, knowing that I wasn’t able to serve full out for the five sets."

    His ability to fight through his injury was just one aspect of how Kyrgios feels he has grown as both a player and a person, touching on how far he has come since being dragged out of the pub by his manager in 2019.

    "I feel like I’ve been through so much, now I can stay composed," he said. "It’s the first time in my career that I wasn’t playing well, but I was able to say ‘wow, look how far I’ve come’ – It was rewarding. 

    "I think I’m enjoying the battle a bit more – I’m expecting everyone to play well against me now. I was that kid once, the underdog, whereas today walking on Centre Court being the favourite was completely different for me, but I was able to navigate that.

    "There was a time when I was having to be forced out of a pub at 4am to play Nadal [in the second round of 2019] – my agent had to come and get me out of a pub at 4am before I played my match on Centre Court, Wimbledon. 

    "So I’ve come a long way, that’s for sure… to sit here, quarter-finals at Wimbledon, feeling composed, mature, completely blessed and comfortable in my own skin."

    Having burst onto the scene at such a young age, Kyrgios said he feels he helped pave the way for the current generation of young stars.

    "This is almost my 10th year on Tour," he said. "I kind of feel like I was the first guy who broke through young, like at 19, beating Rafa at Wimbledon. 

    "I was the first young guy to show all the other guys – like Zverev and Thiem and stuff – that they could do it as well, I feel like I was the first one to break the mould. You look at guys like Alcaraz, Sinner who are just absolutely fearless. 

    "I think a lot of players think that Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are almost Gods and you can’t hurt them. I feel like I showed at least one of them was human that day."

  • Wimbledon: 'I don't moan, I love it!' – Kyrgios revels in controversy and laughs off criticism Wimbledon: 'I don't moan, I love it!' – Kyrgios revels in controversy and laughs off criticism

    Wimbledon quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios admitted to having a "chip on his shoulder" but dismissed the suggestion he bemoaned the controversy that seems to follow him, insisting he "loves it".

    Two days on from an ill-tempered victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas that resulted in both players been fined, Kyrgios defeated 20-year-old Brandon Nakashima to progress to the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the third time in his career.

    It will be the Australian's first appearance in the last eight of the singles draw at a major since 2015 in Melbourne, however, with his other grand slam quarter-final showing having come at Wimbledon in 2014 – Kyrgios having beaten Rafael Nadal to reach that stage on that occasion.

    Cristian Garin of Chile is next up, after what was a reasonably well-mannered display against Nakashima, who Kyrgios was full of praise for.

    Yet he still managed to spark some contention on Monday, having wore a red cap and a pair of red Nike Jordan trainers during his post-match on-court interview, breaching Wimbledon's strict dress code.

    This was put to Kyrgios in his post-match news conference, with the journalist in question asking the 27-year-old if he thought he was above the rules.

    "Because I do what I want," Kyrgios replied. "I'm not above the rules. I just like wearing my Jordans. I'll wear some [Jordan] triple whites tomorrow.

    "Nobody else, even after Wimbledon, really walks with Jordans on the court. I don't moan [about controversy], I love it – more attention for me.

    "What's that saying? Any publicity is good publicity, right?"

    Kyrgios' fellow Australian Pat Cash said over the weekend that his compatriot had taken tennis to "the lowest level".

    Yet Kyrgios insists he now laughs off criticism, which he believes is a sign of how he has matured as a player.

    "Honestly, I don't care. I just smile. It's so funny. It's hilarious," he chuckled. "I almost just wake up and read things and just laugh.

    "I never forget things people might have said three, four years ago, they stick with me. I have a massive chip on my shoulder.

    "And I sit here now, quarter-finals of Wimbledon again, and I just know there's so many people that are so upset. It's a good feeling.

    "I don't think in the past when I’ve got this far in a grand slam, or played big matches, I used to be on my phone a lot, attached to technology, seeing everyone's opinions or highlights, but I feel like I'm able to switch off from that, and that's a big part of my growth. Being obsessed with my girlfriend helps!

    "I'm really able to just let that go, separate tennis and life, I think that's the most important thing."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.