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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Karolina Pliskova sees 'no difference' between No 1 ranking and top 10: 'It's very open for everybody'

Former world No 1 is competing at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week.

Karolina Pliskova spent eight weeks as the world No 1 last season. Lukas Coch / EPA
Karolina Pliskova spent eight weeks as the world No 1 last season. Lukas Coch / EPA

Karolina Pliskova climbed to world No 1 last year, but did not really have time to savour the summit. In fact, being the game’s lead female did not feel any different at all.

“Look, I was there for eight weeks,” she said on Sunday, smiling. “It was not like I would be there for two years. Then it would change.”

Change at the top has been a relatively recent trend. Since Serena Williams’ 186-week stranglehold concluded in September 2016, five different women have held the No 1 slot. Williams has been back twice; Angelique Kerber three times in that span. Caroline Wozniacki sits there now having dethroned Simona Halep.

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In all, the honour has changed hands nine times in less than 18 months. Some view the current flux as a sign the sport is more competitive than for some time. Others prefer a dominant figure. As someone seeking to get back there, Pliskova doesn’t appear too fussed either way.

“I don't know what is better,” said the world No 5 ahead of this week’s WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. “It doesn't really matter. You still have to face the opponent and you still have to try to do your best.

“The ranking is changing because everything is very close. It's very open for everybody. Right now from the top 10, I feel they have the chance to win big tournaments. If Serena is not getting back to where she was, it’s going to be like this, changing a lot. For Caro now, it’s going to be a challenge to stay there."

For Pliskova, getting there constitutes a career highlight, no matter how long it lasted. Last year, she won three times by July - Brisbane, Doha and Eastbourne - to move to world No 1. Although fleeting, it felt just reward for all the hard work that preceded it.

“It was important to get there, so I know I'm able to do it, I'm able to play all year consistently,” the Czech said. “We don't have any big waves, any big upsets, which is quite hard to play all year like this, especially when you know there's so many good players behind you.

"I wouldn't say I don't want to get back there, but I don't think there is so much difference to be No 1 than No 5, for me. The pressure and everything is the same. You're still coming to most of the tournaments the favourite. Maybe not the top favourite, but still a favourite.”

She can be viewed as a front-runner in Dubai this week. Pliskova has enjoyed mixed fortunes at the Aviation Club, finishing runner-up in 2015 but then suffering first-round defeats in two appearances since. Receiving a bye into the second round this year, she is confident of putting that right.

“Two years back I was playing the final,” Pliskova said. “For sure, I have good chance to go far again. The draw is very strong. There is not any easy match, not really a match that can warm me up. It's going to be very tough for me first match.”