Stuttgart, Charleston, Birmingham: @AngeliqueKerber Edges Pliskova for Third Title of 2015
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Angelique Kerber absorbed to power of Karolina Pliskova to come from behind and defeat the Czech 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6 (4) and claim the Birmingham title.
The German was pushed all the way by the rising star who hit 50 winners of the three sets. It was looking good in the early stages when she grabbed an early break.
The first set looked like it would inevitably head the way of the world number 10, who earned three set points on the Pliskova serve at 5-3. The 22 year old Czech fought back from 0-40, and saved another set point to hold serve.
That was the confidence booster Pliskova needed, and with the momentum now on her side she broke back at 5-4 before going on to steal the set in the tiebreaker.
Despite losing the opening set in dramatic fashion, and losing her opening service game in the second, Kerber resiliently never gave up the fight.
The German immediately broke back at 1-0, and then opened up a break advantage of her own in Pliskova’s next service game.
There was no mistake this time from Kerber, who successfully served out the set 6-3 to level the score at one set a piece.
With the score now even, it was tightly balanced heading in to the deciding set. The German was the first to strike, earning the break 1-1 in the third set.
Despite finding herself one game away from losing the match, the 22-year-old never gave up the fight, and her spirit was rewarded when Kerber failed to serve out the match at 5-4.
On to a tiebreak it was, where we would see which player could hold their nerve. Well neither could hold serve in the first four points, but it was eventually Kerber who struck at 4-4.
From there, the German did not lose a point as she successfully closed out the match after a dramatic two hours and 16 minutes on centre court.
It was good old German efficiency that won out in the end, as the player with less unforced errors won the match. Pliskova’s numbers were great- 51 winners to 42 unforced errors. But despite all the winners, Kerber had the better differential with 34 winners to 14 unforced errors.
“Karolina is a great player,” Kerber said post matcg. “She served unbelievably well in the important moments, and she was hitting the balls so close to the lines. I had no chance in the big moments in the first set.
“But I just kept fighting point by point, and it’s just an unbelievable feeling to win today.”
This is Kerber’s third Premier level title of the year after triumphs in Stuttgart and Charleston on the clay. It also means the German will stay inside the top WTA 10.
A place amongst the ten best in the world was also on offer for Pliskova if she was able to win, but unfortunately for the Czech it was not to be. It would have also been her first Premier level title, but she can be proud of her efforts none the less.
“Angie was playing great. I did everything I could so I’m not really disappointed,” Pliskova said post match. “We all saw what she can do on grass – I felt like she was just everywhere, because she moves so well on grass, and it’s always tough to play a lefty on grass. Her flat shots are tough to play against as well.”
One of the bigger stories came earlier in the week, when Sabine Lisicki hit a record 27 aces against Belinda Bencic in round two.
The previous record of 25 held by Alexandra Stevenson was over three sets- Lisicki hit an amazing 27 aces in two sets.
The German went on to reach the semi-finals where she was defeated by eventual champion Kerber.
Both finalists will now head to Eastbourne to continue their Wimbledon preparations.