The heat is on world No.5 Dominika Cibulkova – literally.
The Slovakian knew she would be feeling the pinch backing up from her career’s biggest win when she arrived for this week’s Brisbane International.
Cibulkova is still buzzing from claiming the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore in October, downing world No.1 Angelique Kerber in the decider.
But it seems nothing could prepare her for the pressure cooker atmosphere of a stifling hot Brisbane.
The former Australian Open finalist admitted Queensland’s 30-plus temperatures had ensured an uncomfortable return to the tour after a breakout 2016.
Cibulkova, 27, thought she had all bases covered preparing in sunny Florida for this week’s Brisbane International – but she thought wrong.
“I think you cannot prepare for such heat,” Cibulkova said.
“In Florida it was really humid and hot.
“But when you come here with the jet lag and everything, it’s so hard.”
Yet Cibulkova believes she will emerge from Brisbane with the best preparation yet for the Australian Open.
“You just have to get used to it and try to practice and, step by step, get even better and stronger on the court,” she said.
“Physically I’m really well prepared but this heat is just really hard to play in.
“But I think it’s really good because when I played my finals in the Australian Open, it was so hot over there, and we had so many matches to postpone because of the heat.
“So this is a good preparation.”
If anyone can bounce back from the Brisbane heat, it is Cibulkova.
The Slovakian earned WTA’s Comeback Player of the Year title in 2016 after overcoming an Achilles injury that plummeted her ranking to 66th in February.
Still, Cibulkova admits she is trying to get her head around her 2016 rise.
She is seeded second at the Brisbane International and has a first round bye.
“Last year when I played this tournament, I think I was around 50 or 60 in the world,” she said.
“It feels different to come to the tournament and when you’re No.5 in the world.
“So this is a new situation for me.
“I want to deal with it in a good way and not to see it as a pressure.”