Pliskova never discounted Serena; looks forward to meeting again

Pliskova never discounted Serena; looks forward to meeting again

The world No. 2 believes Serena is playing at a high level going into this year's first major.

Karolina Pliskova, who just won the Brisbane title, says Serena Williams is still among the favorites for the big titles, including next week's Australian Open.

Williams is coming off a title victory in Auckland, and though she's won 73 events, this was her first since she returned to the tour following the birth of her first child. Williams also reached the doubles final with friend Caroline Wozniacki. Her previous title victory was in the 2017 Australian Open. 

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But even before her Auckland victory, Pliskova says she never discounted Williams—she's won 23 Grand Slams, and reached four Slam finals since coming back on tour.  

“I think she had a couple chances already last two years. [Serena] was always quite close,” Pliskova said, noting that the level of play Williams produced at Auckland was more significant than the title. “I think this time, especially, there was no real player which would have the game to beat her. For sure she did some work in the off-season, so she's quite strong and she looks quite pumped, she was playing doubles too, so I think she's going to be always tough no matter which ranking she is, no matter I think which age she is. So she's going to be always tough.”

Still, the 27-year-old Czech wants to play Williams again. They had a memorable encounter at the 2019 Aussie Open, with Williams just a game away from a quarterfinal victory before rolling her ankle. Pliskova came back and captured six straight games to win 7-5 in the third.

“And of course our match I think everybody will remember forever," she said with a laugh. "Always looking forward to play her, so no matter if she's going to be in my part of the draw, it's going to be a challenge.”

Pliskova is No. 2 and Williams is No. 9 in the rankings.