Football

Pliskova won't let pressure of top spot affect her

In a normal year, winning the US Open would be a big-enough carrot in itself to encourage the world's best to give everything for the title.

But there is little normal about this year's US Open, with eight women going into the final Grand Slam of the year with a chance to become the world No. 1.

Top-ranked Karolina Pliskova must at least reach the final to have a chance of staying there, while Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams are all in with a chance.

It makes for an intriguing sub-plot, but Pliskova is trying to put it out of her mind as she focuses on going one better than last year, when she reached her first Major final.

"I don't want to put any extra pressure (on myself)," the Czech said.

"I have enough pressure."

"But I think it's a little bit difficult with the way that I got to world No. 1 and I'm defending now every week quite a lot of points.

"So it's a little bit of a different situation. I will just try to handle it.

"I will try to take it as a positive that I was playing so well here last year."

Pliskova, a French Open semi-finalist and quarter-finalist in Australia this year, reached the top for the first time when Halep lost at Wimbledon, replacing Angelique Kerber.

Being the hunted instead of the hunter brings its own pressures but Pliskova is determined to stay on top.

"I know it's going to be very difficult, with obviously so many girls playing for this position," she said.

"But I think I have a good chance to stay there if I play well these two weeks."

The absence of Serena Williams, who is about to have her first child, has given everyone renewed belief they can win a Grand Slam.

But Pliskova feels the winner will come from the pool of usual suspects.

She said: "It's still between those eight. I would not say it's that open." - REUTERS

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