The final of the 2017 Brisbane International will be contested on Saturday between the number three seed, Karolina Pliskova and Alizé Cornet with action set to get underway at not before 7pm local time (9am in the UK).
Cornet will be seeking out the biggest title of her career when she steps onto the court on Saturday. The Frenchwoman has had a brilliant week in Brisbane, knocking out three seeds along the way in Elena Vesnina, Dominika Cibulkova and Garbiñe Muguruza. In the first of the semi-finals, Cornet was leading 4-1 in the first set against Muguruza when the Spaniard was forced to retire with a right thigh injury. It wasn’t a surprise as Muguruza had spoken about dealing with fatigue but it did rather come out of nowhere! It was a shame as it was shaping up to be a decent contest based on the first five games.
Pliskova produced a stunning performance to score her fifth consecutive win over Elina Svitolina on the WTA tour, 6-2 6-4. Pliskova was not broken once during the 64 minute contest and won 96% of first serve points, dropping just one point behind it in the first set. It was an all-round complete display as Pliskova showed some gorgeous touch at the net, as well as some intelligent play by going behind Svitolina on multiple occasions for the winner. Svitolina didn’t play a bad match at all but didn’t have enough to trouble Pliskova on this occasion. There were signs she was overforcing, particularly in the first set, and feeling the pressure on serve as she conjured up six double faults.
Head-to-head record: The pair have played just once with Cornet winning in Guangzhou in 2013, 7-6(4) 6-0. Cornet was asked about this match in press to which she responded that she didn’t remember the match!
Interesting stat: This will be Cornet’s first final since winning the title in Hobart at the beginning of 2016. She has been beaming on court and in press when asked about playing in Australia! It’s also worth noting that Cornet was just two games away from defeat in her first round match to Vesnina, down 3-6 1-4, before mounting an impressive comeback to win in a third set tiebreak.
Final thoughts: Cornet is playing some super tennis right now, mixing in delicate drop shots with consistent, yet forceful play. Pliskova has been the most convincing top ten player of the week and I was *really* impressed with how well she played against Svitolina. There’s a case for Pliskova being fatigued as her semi-final with Svitolina finished late on Friday night but she has all day to prepare on Saturday and she’s proven on tour before with her brutal scheduling that she can back up wins when it seems very unlikely. Pliskova will know what to expect as Cornet has a somewhat similar baseline game to Svitolina although she normally has more tricks up her sleeve (with mixed success!).
I hope Cornet is not overrawed by the occasion and to be honest, I don’t think she will be as she normally gives as good as she gets. Ultimately, i’m picking Pliskova in this final as her serve has been on the money but just as importantly, she’s been moving well and playing smart tennis all week.