By Ros Satar
(June 21, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – Angelique Kerber dug in against WTA Rising Star Karolina Pliskova in a taut three-set 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4) final to win her first grass court title, and her third title this year, having won in Charleston and Stuttgart.
The first set could not have started any better for the German, who broke Pliskova in the opening game. As nerves settled for the pair, the set ticked on with Kerber looking threatening, especially as the looked to break to take the first set at 5-3, but squandered four set points against the Czech, after being 0-40 up.
The missed opportunities looked to weigh heavy on her mind, as she as was broken straight back, losing her advantage she had held since the start of the match, although she regrouped to hold to love to force a tie-break.
With momentum shifting a little in the tie-break it was Pliskova who brought up two set points to claim the first real blow.
The second set started with the pair trading breaks , but Kerber kept pressing and pushing Pliskova to always be hitting one last shot, earning a second break, as she kept that advantage through to level the match.
First blood in the decider went to the German, who converted on her first break point to open out her second 3-1 advantage of the match, but the nerves are never far behind at times, where Kerber is concerned.
Serving out for the title at 5-4, a couple of flat errors handed Pliskova the break back and once more the pair battled to keep things on even terms into a tie-break.
Trading mini-breaks for the first four points, Pliskova was the first to hold at the start of the tie-break, but giving up a mini-break ahead of Kerber’s two serves gave the German match point. Pliskova’s return found the net and with it her third loss out of four finals this year.
Prior to this week, Pliskova had never even won back to back matches before her tear into the final here, while Kerber picks up her first grass court final, although she has been to the final in Eastbourne once before.
Pliskova admitted in her post-match press-conference that there were still areas for improvement, saying:
“Is really tough, especially for me because I’m quite high. So it’s tough. I’m not used to go in the knees that often, but I’m trying. Especially with Angie, she’s playing so flat balls so you have to go even lower than normally. That’s why I think she’s playing this good on grass. It’s tough, but I’m definitely trying. I think I did a good job this week.”
With the grass court season as short as it was, adding titles to your list was no mean feat, as Kerber now adds that to her list of titles, with Eastbourne still to follow.
She explained: “That’s feeling very good. I think this one is really special for me because it’s the first title on grass for me, and here in Birmingham I had a great week. Everybody is so friendly. And the fans on the centre court, was amazing to play with the support. I’m really proud about my game.
“I don’t have a lot of expectation also here. I mean, I came here to have a lot of matches before Wimbledon. That’s also my goal in Eastbourne, you know, going there and have like few more matches. Let’s see how many, and then going to Wimbledon with a lot of confidence. So that’s my goal.”
Both Kerber and Pliskova are in the main draw for Eastbourne, which begins on Monday.
Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.