Tennis: Pliskova in convincing victory over sluggish Williams

World number three Karolina Pliskova, playing her first match under the guidance of new coach Rennae Stubbs, showcased her heavy artillery. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2017
0

Tennis: Pliskova in convincing victory over sluggish Williams

SINGAPORE: World number three Karolina Pliskova believes her experience playing on the Singapore Indoor Stadium’s slower court was the catalyst for a crushing straight sets victory over Venus Williams on Sunday.
Pliskova, playing in her second consecutive WTA Finals, overwhelmed a sluggish Williams from the get-go to record a 6-2, 6-2 victory in a one-sided match lasting just one hour and 13 minutes.
Williams was making her debut in Singapore after reaching the WTA Finals for the first time since 2009, when it was played in Doha.
Even though she did not make it out of the group stage a year ago, the Czech said the experience helped enormously.
“I think I had quite an advantage from that she (Williams) was not playing for the last few years in WTA finals,” Pliskova told reporters after the match.
“I don’t know how she felt but I think I was trying to take that advantage that I was here last year.”
Opening the tournament, which fields the top eight players, Pliskova — playing her first match under the guidance of new coach Rennae Stubbs — showcased her heavy artillery.
It was a much-needed confidence boost for the 25-year-old, who slipped in the rankings after being crowned world number one in July.
But the match was an anti-climax for Williams and an early blow to the 37-year-old’s bid to be crowned the world’s number one for the first time in 15 years.
Williams said she was confident of rebounding from the defeat. “Yeah, I have been in this position before,” she said. “So I will be back on Tuesday. I felt like I returned well today. I just didn’t execute as well during the point.”
Even though both players are notable servers, there were four breaks of serve in the first set and Pliskova captured three of them.
Pliskova started the match in trademark fashion with an ace and showed her proficiency in returning by breaking Williams in the second game to gain an early stranglehold.
In just her second tournament since the US Open, Williams struggled to dust off the cobwebs. Her error-strewn first set was marred by nine unforced errors and three double faults.
Williams appeared to be finding her groove early in the second set when she had two chances to break. But Pliskova had all the answers and ran out a comfortable winner.


Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

Updated 35 min 28 sec ago
0

Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL: Virgil van Dijk wants to create history with Liverpool this season as he set his sights on an unprecedented quadruple of trophies.
The Anfield outfit are full of confidence after recording six successive wins at the start of a season for the first time since 1961.
Having reached the Champions League final in the previous campaign, they opened up this one with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain thanks to an injury-time strike from Roberto Firmino after the French champions had pulled back a two-goal deficit.
While pundits have suggested Liverpool should prioritize the Premier League, van Dijk said they have the belief to do even better.
“Everyone is excited, feeling good, wanted to be part of this,” he said. “We know the season is very long, four competitions to play and we want to win everything. That’s basically our mindset. You need to have ambitions.
“With the size of this club, the people around here and with the history, we want to try to win everything. It’s going to be hard, we know it’s something very difficult to do, but we are going to try. That’s what we are here for.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit since I arrived here and hope to keep going. I want to win things, create memories here and write history as well with all of these boys.”
The Dutch defender also feels rivals will see Liverpool as contenders for the big prizes having overcome Neymar and Co.
“We were not in the [Champions League] final last season for no reason,” he added. “I think we should have already got the respect, but this season is new.
“Everyone starts over and we need to show it in every game. We need to keep going, keep improving, but also enjoy it. It’s the highest stage.
“If you are going to be on the pitch and you don’t believe it [that you can beat teams like this] then you need to stay home. You need to believe in your team. I have the belief. I’m enjoying it. You want to play in these games, you want to play these clubs. I think it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.
“If you look at the team, the whole squad, players who are not even in there and have so much potential, so much quality, it says a lot about our team.”