Karolina Pliskova reacts after entering the US Open final.
New York: At the US Open semi-finals on a humid Thursday night in New York, newly-crowned world number one Angelique Kerber was described as being “a little predictable”.
That’s not an accusation easily levelled at her opponent in Saturday’s women’s singles final, Karolina Pliskova.
Tattooed and very tall — the 24-year-old stands at 6ft 1in (1.86m) — Pliskova lists Brazilian author Pablo Coelho as her favourite writer and fishing as her hobby.
The Czech is getting used to standing out, even if physically it remains a challenge for a woman who has a twin sister on the tennis tour, Kristyna.
In just a few days, she’s certainly made a name for herself, reaching her first Grand Slam final, downing both Serena and Venus Williams on the way.
“Maybe America hates me,” said the world number 11 who had never previously progressed beyond the third round at a major in 17 attempts.
Pliskova started playing tennis at the age of four in Prague and admits that sport always pushed academic studies into the background.
“I’m not studious at all. I’m really far from that. I have been better at everything else, I find school terribly tiresome and boring,” she once told Czech media.
She left school before completing her final exams.
Pliskova won the first of her six titles in Kuala Lumpur in 2013 before adding Seoul and Linz in 2014 and her hometown trophy in Prague in 2015.
This year, she triumphed on the grass of Nottingham and hardcourts in Cincinnati with victory in the Midwest city secured by beating Kerber in the final.
Her success on the tour has comfortably compensated for her dislike of school with career earnings of $4,499,235 which will be boosted by $3.5 million if she wins the US Open on Saturday.
Such riches have allowed her to set-up home in Monte Carlo.
Pliskova says she’s not one to pile too much significance onto her career.
“I’m an introvert and phlegmatic so I don’t show my joy. I know the world is mean, that there is so much suffering on the planet that none of us can imagine,” she told an interviewer.
“I often think of those who have nothing, who have to suffer every day, so a winner, a game, set, match will never give me immense joy, only satisfaction. The world won’t change.”
Her fame, however, has brought downsides.
In 2012, her father Radek was convicted for being part of a ring producing counterfeit cigarettes.
She has been dating Michal Hrdlicka, a former sports presenter at Czech TV station, Nova.
He was sacked after video footage emerged of him drunk and urinating in the street at a film festival this summer.
Pictures of the incident were splashed by Czech tabloid Blesk and Pliskova immediately deleted romantic pictures of the couple from her Instagram account.
However, they are believed to still be in a relationship with Hrdlicka in New York for the tournament.
Twin sister Kristyna isn’t in New York. Ranked at 122 in the world, she’s thousands of miles away playing at the Dalian Open in China where she’s made the semi-finals.
If she were, would fans be able to tell the sisters apart?
Simple, says Karolina. She has two Polynesian-style tattoos, one on her left thigh and on her left arm.
Kristyna, meanwhile, has just one piece of ink on the inside of her left arm. Kristyna plays left-hand; Karolina is a right-hander.
And, according to the WTA, Karolina is one inch taller.