May 24, 2019 / 5:55 PM / a month ago

Tennis: Pliskova hopes hitting with Halep will pay off

Tennis - WTA Premier 5 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 19, 2019 Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova poses with a trophy as she celebrates winning the final against Britain's Johanna Konta REUTERS/Matteo Ciambelli

(Reuters) - Second seed Karolina Pliskova wants to ensure she is battle-ready when the French Open begins by choosing reigning champion Simona Halep as her pre-tournament practice partner.

The powerful Czech is being tipped as a potential champion this year after winning in Rome last week — her biggest claycourt title to date.

And she can think of no better preparation than trading shots with Romanian Halep, who claimed her long-awaited first Grand Slam title by outlasting Sloane Stephens last year.

“I always enjoy to play with her, it’s a guarantee that the practice is going to be a good level, because she always plays good. She always fights in the practice,” the 27-year-old Pliskova told reporters on Friday.

With Halep in the top half of the draw and Pliskova at the bottom she will at least be spared having to face her new hitting buddy competitively until the final.

Although a potential second-round clash against former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova promises to be a real scrap.

Apart from a run to the semi-finals in 2017, Pliskova’s French Open record is mediocre, but she says having Spanish former runner-up Conchita Martinez in her coaching set-up is helping her master the slower surface.

“I feel confident after I made the title in Rome, so there is no reason why I should not be feeling great,” she said.

“I think she understands my game well, so that’s why everything is working. Conchita, she has good influence on me, so she’s helping me, especially now on the clay.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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