Rennae Stubbs says Karolina Pliskova must show more belief in herself and be prepared to win “playing a little bit ugly” if she is to claim a maiden grand slam title at the Australian Open.
Pliskova secured a 12th WTA Tour singles title at the Brisbane International last weekend, roaring back from within two points of defeat to beat Lesia Tsurenko in the final after a pep talk from coach Stubbs.
Major glory has so far eluded the former world number one, a loss to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 US Open final the closest she has come.
Pliskova is among the leading contenders to triumph in Melbourne and Stubbs – who combines coaching duties with Conchita Martinez – says the aggressive Czech must replicate the attitude she showed when rallying to defeat Tsurenko.
Stubbs told Omnisport: “The thing with Karolina is she expects to always play at her very best and wants to hit the ball as pure, as perfect as possible, but unfortunately you have to win a lot of matches playing a little bit ugly, or not at your very best.
“You only play at your very best once in a while, she has to almost let go of that dream of wanting to hit the ball perfectly and win every match easily.
“She has to learn how to fight. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a number of players win grand slams for the very first time who have always had great determination to win matches. The thing I was happiest with in Brisbane is that she didn’t give up, didn’t quit on herself.
“I’ve been working with her a lot on trying to be a lot more positive. I tell her I can handle one bad game, I can handle one a bad attitude on one point, but I can’t handle two.
“She can’t throw away one or two games just because she doesn’t really feel good about herself. I want to see her dig deep and not give away extra games. I think over the last six months myself and Conchita have improved her desire, because both of us are ultra-passionate.”
— rennae stubbs (@rennaestubbs) January 6, 2019
Four-time grand slam doubles champion Stubbs believes Pliskova can rouse herself to win the first major of the year without being able to call on a coach for inspiration during matches.
She added: “A conversation to have before the tournament will be, ‘remember the coach cannot go out there. You have to find a way to believe in yourself rather than think it’s over,’ which she did in the final in Brisbane.
“She needs to find the clarity a coach can give her by herself on the court. I can tell her before the tournament, that to win a slam you have to have that belief in yourself when you are down a break, you cannot rely on me or Conchita.
“She has to believe in herself, which is what we work on in practice. She didn’t really want to use me all that much in Brisbane, there were two matches where she didn’t call me out at all so she’s trying to work it out on her own.
“Hopefully she’s learned from that final, from what I told her to be able to translate that on her own – and I think she can, just as [Caroline] Wozniacki did last year.”