Eighth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic was aiming for a second week at Wimbledon but never expected she would make it to her maiden All England Club final, and her first Grand Slam final since 2016."Coming into this tournament, the dream was to make the second week, of course, because I was not in (a Grand Slam) second week for a while," Karolina said after defeating Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in three sets on Thursday."Never I thought about maybe going into the final," Karolina told wtatennis.com.It has been nearly five years since Pliskova reached her only prior major final at the 2016 US Open, which she lost to Germany's Angelique Kerber. The Czech now has another shot at her first Grand Slam title thanks to her nearly two-hour comeback win against Aryna."After losing the first set, I thought it was going to be super tough to win this match. Then to win two sets in a row with the way how she was serving today -- I think she was serving incredible, all my chances she just put amazing serves in.
Super proud about the way how I handled the situation out there, the second and third set, and that I served out the match," said Karolina.Aryna had won their two previous encounters, both times fighting back from third-set deficits, and also saving match points in their most recent clash at Cincinnati in 2018. This time, Karolina held onto her third-set advantage as she powered to victory."I think I was playing also earlier this year super tough players, they always went deep in the tournament," Karolina said of her slow start to the 2021 season. "I think I was close to playing a good level, but somehow I was not able to really win all those matches."It's not that I would be playing horrible. Sometimes you're just missing a little bit and you're not doing anything wrong. I think sometimes just to hang in there is super important, which I did."And, Karolina's deep returns helped here create more opportunities on Thursday."It was more about, just to be quick, ready, low of course, and to put as many balls back as I can. Of course, to hold the serve. To be patient, which is tough, especially for me. But, yeah, worked out in the end."