July 7, 2018 / 12:00 AM / 4 months ago

Pliskova keeps mum in the dark

LONDON (Reuters) - Karolina Pliskova’s mother gets so jittery when her daughter is playing tennis that she never travels with her and also opts not to watch her matches on TV.

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 6, 2018 Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova in action during the third round match against Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

It’s just as well Mrs Pliskova makes no exceptions to her blackout policy even during Wimbledon. Had she tuned in on Friday, her heart could have been doing flip flops for almost two hours as her cherished child underwent a pounding on Court One.

But in the end, Pliskova narrowly avoided joining the cull of Wimbledon seeds to reach the fourth round with a 3-6 7-6(3) 6-1 win over Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The Czech appeared to be in danger of becoming the ninth top-10 seed to fall before the last 16 when Buzarnescu bagged the first set and kept Pliskova guessing in the second as she stormed to a 4-1 lead.

But somehow, she managed to cling on and not join Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams in the ever-growing check-out queue.

So how did she pull off the great escape?

“I don’t know,” she said matter-of-factly.

Pushed to elaborate, she added: “Obviously a set and a half, she was so much better than me. But I just tried to hold my serve and wait for some chance because I was returning her serve so badly even though it was not that fast.

“I couldn’t get used to it. Finally when I got used to it, I got my chances. She started to miss little bit. Then obviously she was broken a little bit after the second set.”

Once the seventh seed survived the second set tiebreak, she raced through the decider to make it through to the second week for the first time in seven attempts.

She will next take on Venus Williams’ conqueror Kiki Bertens for a place in the quarter-finals.

Pliskova and world number one Simona Halep are the only top-10 seeds still in the tournament. Since tennis turned professional in 1968, it is the worst showing at Wimbledon by the women’s seeds.

With such an open draw and with no other top-10 seed left in her half of the draw, she must now be fancying her chances of making it through to her second Grand Slam final following her run to the 2016 U.S. Open title match.

“I don’t care in the draw if they are seeded or not,” she said.

“Even though they are not seeded, all the players are pretty strong and playing very good tennis. They wouldn’t be here without playing a good level.

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“Even today I could have lost. For me it’s important I’m still in the draw. I know the draw is open and there is a big chance for me. All that matters is I want to win my next round.”

She will be back to do just that in front of another big audience - but one that will not include a certain Mrs Pliskova.

“She doesn’t even see the score, nothing.”

Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond and Hugh Lawson

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