With an air of calm and quiet, Karolina Pliskova is making noise at the U.S. Open.
Without a single grunt or shriek or “C’mon!!!” Pliskova has reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open with an efficiently powerful game that suggests there’s something still in reserve.
On Wednesday she ended the surprising run of 18-year-old Ana Konjuh, and did it with elegant ease. Her 6-2, 6-2 win in the quarterfinals was earned with a serve that Konjuh couldn’t touch and groundstrokes that Konjuh couldn’t handle.
Pliskova lost a total of five points on her serve, one in the first set. She won 22 of 24 points on her first serve. Konjuh never got a break point, never got to deuce. Pliskova ended the match in the eighth game of the second set with two aces, leaving Konjuh shaking her head.
Even Pliskova was surprised with the ease of her victory in her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal that puts her into her first ever Grand Slam semifinal.
“I was surprised and I was still waiting even in the first set,” Pliskova said. “Even in the second set I was still waiting some complications gonna come. But, well, I’m not gonna complain.”
The 24-year-old Czech player is 6-1 and physically impressive, covers the court with long legs and reaches wide balls with a wide wing span. And she does it all with economy of effort and what appears to be a minimum of emotion. It might be unfair to call her the Tower of Dour, but she plays with a distinct stoicism breached only by the occasional understated fist pump and a nod to her player’s box.
“I was more angry before with myself on the court,” Pliskova said. “So that I am improved a lot. Sometimes I’m still smashing my racketss. More in the practices than in the matches. I’m trying to be calm in the match because it’s not really helping me. I don’t really want to show even the opponent and even the crowd and the people any frustration.”
Konjuh was frustrated at her inability to penetrate Pliskova’s game, but elated that she made it to her first Slam quarterfinal and had knocked off No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska along the way.
“I wasn’t at my best level today for sure, but she was just too good,” Konjuh said. “Her serve is just too good. Today on the court, she found her rhythm and took the opportunities that I gave her. You know, I cannot be sad after all of this. Good luck to her. She’s having great season so far, and I’m cheering for her.”