Karolina Pliskova tipped to go one step better
Karolina Pliskova will be hoping to go one stage further and win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title after finishing as runner-up to Simona Halep last year.
One of the most exciting newcomers on the WTA Tour, the 23-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2015 as she climbed as high as seven in the world rankings.
She gave an indication of what was to come when she reached Dubai after advancing to the final in Sydney and the semi-finals in Antwerp. Once she arrived in the UAE Pliskova battled her way to the final with successive three-set victories over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, Lucie Safarova and Garbine Muguruza.
She went on to reach the quarter-finals in Miami and win her fourth career singles title on home ground in Prague.
In Birmingham, she beat world No. 9 Carla Suarez Navarro before being edged in a third-set tiebreaker in the final by this year's Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. This season, Pliskova has made a solid start by reaching the quarter-finals in Sydney where she was stopped again by Halep, and the third round of the Australian Open.
Last weekend, she was in Fed Cup action when she almost single-handedly earned a 3-2 victory over Romania. She not only overcame Halep this time in a three-set thriller, but beat Monica Niculescu in another three-set battle before clinching victory for her country in the decisive doubles rubber.
"Karolina Pliskova's performance against Romania in Fed Cup was astonishing and has left us in no doubt that she will once again be a strong challenger for the title here," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman, Dubai Duty Free.
"It will be interesting to see how she fares against one of the strongest fields ever to play in the 16 years of the WTA event, which includes four current or former world No. 1s and three Dubai champions."