US Open 2016 Final: Angelique Kerber v Karolina Pliskova for a first US Open title

Kerber

In a repeat of the Cincinnati final and both vying for their first US Open title, Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova will battle it out in the US Open final on Saturday.

First of all, a huge hearty congratulations to Kerber who will move to the world number one spot come Monday. I’m thrilled for Angie and her fans, and it is well deserved after a magnificent year. The big improvement for me has been the mental aspect of her game in 2016 which has been remarkable. I kept thinking back this morning to the match against Misaki Doi in the first round at the Australian Open where she saved a match point…

Kerber’s move to the world number one position was confirmed after Karolina Pliskova’s 6-2 7-6(5) victory over Serena Williams. Kerber made sure it was a perfect night as she followed Pliskova into the final with a 6-4 6-3 win over Caroline Wozniacki. As both matches were at night in the US , i’m not going to attempt to recap them. You can follow what happened on Thursday night from the WTA Insider blog HERE.

I wondered whether it was ever going to happen for Pliskova at a Slam having never previously reached the second week. After breaking new ground by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round, it’s been a bit of an avalanche and it seems that a weight has almost been lifted from her shoulders. The victory over Venus (recap HERE) was Pliskova’s only dropped set of the tournament where she also saved a match point.

Kerber is yet to drop a set all tournament and has been steady as you like and typically reliable. Now that she is confirmed as world number one, I wonder whether this will take some of the pressure away in the final, or if she will feel the need to perform. Kerber has the experience of two Slam finals this year but I don’t think Pliskova will be too phased compared to other first time Slam finalists. She’s played her last three matches on Ashe, two of them against Serena and Venus, and she’s always come across as a very calm and composed player on court. She can rely on her serve, which should give her a pathway into the match.

This *could* be a cracker… the pair shared some super finals in 2015 including in Birmingham, one of the matches of the year. Kerber won both finals they played in 2015 but Pliskova won their most recent encounter in the Cincy final, 6-3 6-1. Pliskova was just too good although Kerber was clearly fatigued having arrived from Rio. This match will likely be a more even playing field as both players have had relatively routine passages through the draw (For Karolina, Venus match aside).

For Pliskova, her last four matches have been against big hitters (Pavs, Venus, Konjuh and Serena) so Kerber presents a different challenge. The fast hard court should suit both players; it helps Pliskova’s serve, but also gives Kerber more pop on her strokes too. Kerber hasn’t really been tested yet or needed to raise her level – she managed to elevate her game for both Slam finals this year so my hunch is that she will do the same here.

I think it’s easy to stake a claim for either player winning this. I think it will be a very close final and i’m edging towards Kerber in three.

Photo in this post by mootennis.com

16 thoughts on “US Open 2016 Final: Angelique Kerber v Karolina Pliskova for a first US Open title

  1. Heart says Pliskova, head says Kerber.
    It’s the biggest match of both their careers. Obviously its Karolina’s first Slam finally, but for Angie it’s the first one where she’s the favourite to win, and that could play a role in the outcome.

    I just hope for a great match, regardless.

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    • Me too! All I want is a great match!!
      P.S. Karo is on her best way to qualify for the WTA Finals. The current TOP 8 look awesome. Such a diversity 🙂

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      • Shes pretty much qualified already really. All she needs to do is show up in Asia and win a match or two. The points she’ll get from even losing rubbers in Singapore will boost her up the rankings.

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  2. Both players very impressive in the sems.Really hard to pick a winner on form but experience of Slam finals could be the difference for Kerber.

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    • Hi Al, having seen a couple of Karolina’s FED cup match performances when it matters, she is capable of steeling herself. Although this is a Grand Slam final, I hope she does come to play to make it a good final.

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      • I think she’ll be confident even its her first time in a Slam final. She’s got the weapons..I’m still stunned by last night!

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  3. 6-7,6-3, tiebreaker win. I’m thinking 3 sets for Kerber. Else, it could be tight straights for Pliskova. May the best girl win. Seeing as Laura Siegmund has already won the mixed doubles title may inspire Kerber too.

    3 sets for Beth and Lucie as well.

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    • I’m going for Garcia and Mladenovic to win doubles. It’s a shame their Olympics chances were destroyed by factors outside of their control. Everything was going in their favour for a big win…until just before they got on court.

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  4. As a fan since the famous US Open semi in 2011 I’m in total shock and absolute disbelief that Angie will compete in her 3rd slam final already and will be no. 1 as of Monday. When I started supporting her it always felt like supporting the nice girl that was quite good for Top 10 but would never compete for the big titles. Seeing her fulfilling the potential that she has is amazing and absolutely made my day today. Honestly, it can’t get any better than this. German media is absolutely in love with Angie and she finally gets all the attention she deserves for her continious good results.

    As a tennis fan in general it couldn’t be any better for me. I really really like Pliskova, too. Some of her strokes just look so easy. I’m in total disbelief that she won against Serena, too. Passing that dubios third round hurdle must have set free some mental power (also: haters to the left. she WILL be a slam champion. if not tomorrow then next year.)

    Soooooooo, I don’t care who is going to win tomorrow. Two of my faves playing…I’ll just enjoy!

    (As for the result I think that Angie *might* win IF she does not feel any pressure of being the favourite because I have no idea how Karo will react mentally on this huge occasion.)

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  5. I think the Cincinnati final might be an advantage for Kerber. Angie knows who she’s playing against but Karolina does not. Karolina will wonder whether that was the actual Kerber or whether her opponent was tired, sick or injured at the time. Also, even though she is certainly not the favorite, the Cinci final may make Karolina think that she can actually do it. And that makes the pressure even bigger. Kerber playing Serena at the AO did not have that kind of pressure. Long story short: If Karolina is not being broken in the first three service games (or at least manages to break back), I think it could be a fantastic final.

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    • Pliskova has played Kerber at her best a couple of times now and made things really tight. For her its going to be about letting it happen naturally and not trying to force a big performance.

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      • Sure they have played a couple of times but the recent game in Cincinnati can serve Kerber as a lesson and she and Torben Beltz will figure out a new game plan based on that tape. And thus Kraolina will not know what to expect. The other way round it does not work.

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  6. Personally I’ll be very impressed with either winning but I will be slightly disappointed in Kerber if she loses.

    Her only title above Premier level is the Australian Open vs a nervous Serena. It is quite easy to make semis/finals of big events with the current state of the WTA Tour but it is difficult to actually win them – something Kerber hasn’t proven on a single other occasion in her career.

    This final depends almost entirely on Pliskova – as long she doesn’t let the occasion of a Grand Slam final get to her, I don’t see much hope for Kerber to win.

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  7. Ah….What a year! Angelique Kerber a deserving #1. Gut gemacht! Who would’ve thought it, remember when she beat an inform Azarenka at the start of the year.

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