Karolina Pliskova’s husband has revealed just how difficult it was to get from Romania to Doha with a 23-hour turnaround between matches. The former Wimbledon finalist won the title in Cluj on Sunday and was scheduled to play her first-round Qatar Open match on Monday, 2,900 miles away. If her championship match in Romania went on any longer, the former world No. 1 likely wouldn’t have made it in time.
Pliskova has enjoyed a promising start to the season, lifting her first title in four years at the Transylvania Open. After falling out of the world’s top 75, the Czech star has now jumped to No. 59 in the rankings. But she barely had any time to celebrate her triumph in Romania before she was forced to jump on a plane to make it to Doha in time for her first-round match.
The 31-year-old was scheduled to play Anna Kalinskaya in the last match on Grandstand 1 on Monday and stepped onto the court around 23 hours after she lifted the trophy in Cluj. After switching from an indoor hard court to outdoors, Pliskova battled for two hours and 14 minutes to beat the wildcard 2-6 7-6(3) 6-4.
It was a huge effort from the two-time Grand Slam finalist but she was very nearly forced to pull out of the Qatar Open altogether. According to Pliskova’s husband, she faced “challenging conditions” to get to the WTA 1000 event in time. “She caught the flight from Cluj via Istanbul to Doha at the last minute,” Michal Hrdlicka tweeted after his wife’s first-round win.
“If the final in Romania had been played just a little longer, she would not have reached Qatar at all. This is how she arrived at the hotel at 8 in the morning, slept for 4 hours, had a quick lunch, 14:30 play-off and a match. Extremely challenging conditions.”
And the world No. 59 is back in action again on Tuesday for her second-round match against Anastasia Potapova, playing second on the Grandstand 3 court. In Romania, Pliskova defeated No. 8 seed Ana Bogdan 6-4 6-3 in the final.
Pliskova hadn’t contested a final since the 2021 Canadian Open, where she lost to Camila Giorgi. She managed to lift her 17th career title – her first since the 2020 Brisbane International.
“I feel amazing because I didn’t win a title since, I think, a couple years, so of course it feels great, especially here with the support which I have all week,” she said afterwards. “Today was difficult, but the atmosphere was amazing, so I hope to come back for sure. At the moment I’m just really happy, so I want to enjoy it.”
But she didn’t get to enjoy it because of the difficult travel plans, with Doha organisers scheduling Pliskova to play on Monday. Daria Kasatkina found herself in a similar position after losing in the Abu Dhabi Open final on Sunday. She was also included in Monday’s order of play in Qatar and crashed out to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after her quick turnaround, playing second in the day.