Angelique Kerber defeated Karolina Pliskova in a superb US Open final, bookending her year with a second Slam title in a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory in two hours and seven minutes.
It’s been a sensational two weeks for Kerber who will ascend to the lofty heights of world number one when the rankings are released on Monday. Kerber broke Pliskova’s serve twice to win the first set of the final, 6-3. Pliskova came out looking a little nervy, as expected, with a bad volley miss in the first game. The Czech player soon settled down but couldn’t take any of her three break points opportunities. Kerber won 63% of first serve points and 67% points of second serve points; she defended magnificently well behind the second serve and made just three (!) unforced errors. Pliskova produced some lovely points coming forward to the net, but committed too many loose unforced errors.
The pressure was beginning to mount on Kerber’s serve in the second set, while Pliskova was beginning to look more and more assured. Kerber had been winning all the mini-battles and big points. Pliskova finally made her breakthrough at 3-3 in the second set. Kerber went ahead *30-0 in that game but Pliskova came roaring back; she was particularly vocal after one point as she sensed this was her moment. A terrific point at the net ensued on break point and Pliskova finally took one with a beautiful lob.
Kerber began to look a little shaky as her error count seemed to double in the space of ten minutes. The German player hung onto her serve down *3-5 but Pliskova served out the set, producing a pair of clutch holds from *15-30 down in her last two service games of the set to take it, 6-4.
The momentum had certainly swung Pliskova’s way and she looked the more dominant player at the start of the third set. Kerber’s serve was looking more vulnerable and she was beginning to look unsteady from baseline with more and more shots into the net. With Kerber serving at 1-1, Pliskova missed an absolute sitter in the middle of the game. However, she managed to put that behind her and convert on her second break point in the game. Kerber’s challenge seemed to be fading but she managed to produce her best game for quite some time, a love hold to get to to 2-3. Kerber broke back in the next game with the final finely poised at 3-3.
Kerber held from *0-30 in the next game, highlighted by a magnificent down-the-line forehand winner at 30-30. Pliskova battled admirably to hold serve in the next game to level up at 4-4. I wasn’t feeling a strong favouritism to either player but I was nervous! Kerber’s forehand down-the-line was becoming more of a threat and Pliskova’s error count was rising.
Kerber would go onto win the last eight points of the match. Pliskova had a shocker of a service game faced with scoreboard pressure at *4-5 as Kerber won through, sealing the AO-USO double.
I’ve run out of superlatives to describe what Kerber has managed to achieve this year. I thought she was in trouble down *1-3 in the third set but she clawed her way back into contention, staying calm and focused, and not allowing the frustration to overtake her. A steely mental toughness has been all too evident this year and add to that, a growing comfort at going for her shots in the crucial moments… that forehand down-the-line is one of my favourite shots in tennis!
The variety has also been a huge addition to her game and while she didn’t play many successful drop shots in this final, they’ve been key in many of her matches this year. I had Kerber at #11 in my pre-season predictions… you proved me wrong, Angie! And i’m delighted that she did because I have always enjoyed watching Angie play and like her unassuming nature. She was thrust into the limelight after winning the Australian Open and despite a tiniest of wobbles in her two following tournaments, she’s handled everything remarkably well. No matter what some people will say, she’s a fully deserving world number one. Enjoy this moment, Angie and also her fans!
A huge congrats to Pliskova for a stunning week. It was a snowball effect all tournament having never made it past the third round of a Slam before. She just kept on going and going… first time in the second week of a Slam, first Slam quarter-final, first Slam semi-final and first Slam final! And she was pretty close to a first Slam title. Just two games away, but the pressure and nerves seemed to take over at the end. I think this week will have been a game-changer for Pliskova going forward.
This was another superb Slam final. I’ve loved all four this year…
Australian Open – Kerber d. S.Williams, 6-4 3-6 6-4
French Open – Muguruza d. S.Williams, 7-5 6-4
Wimbledon – S.Williams d. Kerber, 7-5 6-3
US Open – Kerber d. Pliskova, 6-3 4-6 6-4
Without doubt, it’s been the best year of Slam finals since i’ve been following the sport. I think all four finals will probably be in my top 20 matches come the end of the season.
That’s a wrap on the US Open for the women’s singles. The doubles final is to come later on Sunday featuring Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia up against Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands… i’ll be cheering for Lucie and Beth! Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed the coverage on Moo’s Tennis Blog this year for the US Open. It’s been a fabulous few months of tennis but I am well and truly spent right now. I’ll leave you with some of my favourite tweets from the final…