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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday October 7, 2021

A 6-6 start to the 2021 season and a tumble from the Top-10 for the first time since 2016 had Karolina Pliskova doubting her long-term future in the sport.

The Former World No.1 had just turned 29 and wondered if this was the year that her career would start to decline.

Tennis Express

"I was thinking, okay, everybody has this point in their career where they just drop so much, so I was thinking maybe it's my time,” she said during her pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells on Wednesday. “So I'm happy I didn't really drop because I was just one week out of the Top-10 which is not so bad, and I kind of came back again."

What happened next was a stunning return to form, and of course the Top-10. Pliskova, back to No.3 in the world at the moment, is happy it turned out that way.

"Super proud about that, that we didn't give up, and also me about this season, because I think it could have easily gone the wrong way, just to go 'Okay, whatever, this year is horrible,' Covid and bubbles and everything.’ I was tired, and of course mentally also tired, but I am just proud that we somehow stayed and even made it much better, I think that was the best second part of the year which I had, ever."

Pliskova credits her mental toughness and no-quit attitude for her ability to rise back up the rankings.

"I didn't really surprise myself because normally I don't give up and I don't complain and I don't like crying,” she said. “I just try and sometimes it goes and sometimes not, of course. And of course I have bad moods, but I never say 'Okay I'm done and I quit this season' and just give up, so I don't normally do that, ever. But I was a bit, let's say, worried, because I never started a year the way I started this one, so I was like 'Okay, maybe that's it, maybe my best years are over, maybe it's just gonna be like this forever.' I had five amazing years so maybe that's it. So I was just thinking, ‘Okay of course I'm not 23 anymore."

Pliskova has reached finals at Rome, Wimbledon and Montreal this season, and also hit a semifinal at Cincinnati and a quarterfinal at the US Open. She’s already qualified for the WTA Finals at Guadalajara and is looking forward to finishing the year even stronger.

Credit to her and her self-belief for digging herself out after a slow start.