Con­sis­tency paid off

The how of Pliskova’s rise to No. 1 in world doesn’t mat­ter much to her, just that she made it there ... Ker­ber, Halep say they are fine ... Mugu­ruza didn’t cel­e­brate Wim­ble­don win much

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - DAVE HILSON dhil­son@post­ @dav­e_hil­son

Karolina Pliskova doesn’t mind that she took a round­about way to be­com­ing the top-ranked women’s player in the world.

The 25-year-old Czech rose to the No. 1-rank­ing when she sur­passed Ger­many’s An­gelique Ker­ber dur­ing this year’s edi­tion of Wim­ble­don, even though she had an early exit from the grand slam event.

“It doesn’t mat­ter how you get there, it’s just im­por­tant that I got there,” Pliskova told re­porters dur­ing me­dia avail­abil­ity at the Rogers Cup at York Univer­sity yes­ter­day.

“Even if it’s only for two or three weeks, I’ll take it.”

Due to the points-based rank­ing sys­tem, Pliskova, who has won three times this sea­son and nine times in her ca­reer, rose to the top thanks to Si­mona Halep’s quar­ter­fi­nal loss to Jo­hanna Konta.

Halep of Ro­ma­nia would have be­come world No. 1 had she beaten the Bri­ton.

“Ob­vi­ously, it’s ten­nis and it can hap­pen like this,” said Pliskova, who was with her boyfriend at the time Halep was los­ing her match. “I told him, ‘I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to fol­low the live score or any­thing’ be­cause I wasn’t sure I wanted to get there like this … But I was fol­low­ing the last two balls on match point.”

Pliskova, the third seed at Wim­ble­don, lost in the sec­ond round to 33rd-ranked Mag­dalena Ry­barikova but her con­sis­tent re­sults this sea­son, in­clud­ing get­ting to the French Open semi­fi­nals, moved her up to the No. 1 spot.

Pliskova will get ei­ther Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkov or Al­ize Cor­net in her first match. No. 4 seed Gar­bine Mugu­ruza prac­tices yes­ter­day. Mugu­ruza beat Venus Wil­liams to win the Wim­ble­don ti­tle this year.

Ker­ber, who at 28 was the old­est player ever to reach No. 1, came into the press area slightly banged up.

The world No. 3 was wear­ing a brace on her an­kle and had had a ban­dage on her el­bow dur­ing prac­tice, but said she is do­ing okay.

“The brace on my an­kle is just a pre­cau­tion,” she said. “I’m play­ing all the matches with an­kle tape, so ev­ery­thing is fine. My el­bow is ac­tu­ally okay. I was feel­ing it a lit­tle bit in the last few weeks, but I hope it’s noth­ing se­ri­ous.”

The Ger­man will face ei­ther qual­i­fier Donna Ve­kic or Cana­dian Eu­ge­nie Bouchard in her first match.

Ker­ber said she re­ally didn’t have a pref­er­ence.

“We will see, I don’t care. I’m here to play matches and I’m not think­ing too much about my op­po­nent,” said Ker­ber, who hasn’t played since Wim­ble­don. “For me it’s more that I’m go­ing out there and play­ing again, try­ing to make the tran­si­tion from all the prac­tis­ing the last cou­ple of weeks.”

She had been cop­ing with a ham­string in­jury head­ing into Wim­ble­don, where she lost in the Round of 16.

Though she has won four times this sea­son and has risen all the way to No. 5 in the world, Elina Svi­tolina of Ukraine isn’t ey­ing the No. 1-rank­ing just yet.

“For the mo­ment I’m not fo­cussing on this,” she said. “I think it’s just a mat­ter of time, just a mat­ter of prepa­ra­tion. I still think I can im­prove. To be No. 1, you need to be more com­plete as a player. There are some small de­tails I need to tinker with.”

While her fo­cus might be else­where, she does like some of the perks that go with be­ing a top-ranked player.

“Peo­ple lis­ten to you more,” the 22-year-old said with a laugh. “There’s more pres­sure, of course, but it’s just part of ten­nis.”

Svi­tolina said she is happy to be back on the hard­court af­ter hav­ing some foot is­sues at Wim­ble­don, where she lost in the Round of 16.

“I’m feel­ing good and re­freshed,” she said.

What would you do if you had just won the women’s Wim­ble­don ti­tle? Per­haps go out and party with friends? Maybe treat your­self to some­thing lav­ish? Not world No. 4 Gar­bine Mugu­ruza.

“I didn’t have a re­ally big cel­e­bra­tion, I had a nice din­ner with my fam­ily and team. I’m not like that wild per­son who goes par­ty­ing and stuff like that. But I think we had a good mo­ment,” said the Wim­ble­don champ, who beat vet­eran Venus Wil­liams to hoist the tro­phy.

In her only other grand slam vic­tory, Mugu­ruza de­feated Venus’ sis­ter, Ser­ena, at the 2015 French Open.

The 23-year-old Spa­niard said she is feel­ing mo­ti­vated head­ing into her first match since the big vic­tory.

“I want to keep things the same way, keep it sim­ple, not make a big deal of any­thing, and not to take any­thing for granted as well,” she said.

Halep, the de­fend­ing cham­pion at this event and the world No. 2, opened her sum­mer hard­court sea­son last week in Washington, D.C., where she re­tired dur­ing her quar­ter­fi­nal with heat ill­ness. She said she is okay. “I feel much bet­ter now. I feel ready to start the tour­na­ment,” she said … Konta still has some work in front of her. The 26-yearold, who is cur­rently ranked seventh in the world and rose as high as No. 4, said she started play­ing ten­nis at the age of 8 and knew by the time she was 9 that she wanted to be world No. 1 … There is $2.735 mil­lion in prize money up for grabs in this tour­na­ment, which is in its 49th year as a WTA event.


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