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Pliskova success raises prospect of overdue Grand Slam breakthrough

Pliskova can be proud of her body of work in Brisbane, beating world No.3 Naomi Osaka in a difficult three-set semi-final before accounting for Keys on Sunday afternoon. But her grand slam record has taught her that recent glories mean little once the main event begins.

“I think it always gives you some extra confidence and tells you what level you are at for the start of the year,” Pliskova said. “But of course, a grand slam, there is nobody thinking ‘she won a tournament two weeks ago’.

Karolina Pliskova celebrates during her Brisbane International final victory over Madison Keys.

Karolina Pliskova celebrates during her Brisbane International final victory over Madison Keys.Credit:AP

“That doesn’t count. I can still feel well and confident but I have to start from zero. I have to go out and get some practices and be ready for it. Anything can happen.”

Pliskova has won 15 WTA titles in a career that has earned her almost $29 million and, during that time, players of lesser consistency have taken home major titles. But if there was a slam made for her game, it would be in Australia, where she made the semi-final in 2019, her equal career-best result in any majors.

The Melbourne courts are of similar pace and carry to those on Pat Rafter Arena, where Pliskova feels so at home she must be tempted to buy one of the nearby apartments that overlook the Brisbane River.

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Barty will get the top seeding in Melbourne but there is no ‘Big Three’ in the women’s game at the moment. The Australian must be considered a strong chance to go deep into the tournament, despite an early loss in Brisbane, but the question Pliskova must ask is simply: ‘Why not me?’

Keys, too, stands a good chance of being a factor in the second week and soars out of Brisbane with high levels of confidence, despite the close defeat on Sunday.

“I’m definitely pretty happy with how this week went. I don’t think I played amazing tennis today and I was still right in that match, so a lot of very positive things to take away,” Keys said.

“I was definitely very happy in tight, tense moments, just totally keeping my cool and moving on to the next point. So there’s definitely a lot of positive things coming out of this week.”

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