Ode to Joy! Angelique Kerber wins the US Open.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber won her second grand slam title of the year, beating the 10th seed Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a tightly contested final at Flushing Meadows, New York. It marked the continuation of a banner year for the unassuming native of Bremen, Germany, adding to an Australian Open title and a Wimbledon finals appearance.
Pliskova arrived at the finals having taken the scalps of Venus and Serena Williams. She would more than played her part in a gripping final. The opening set was a high tempo affair with breaks exchanged early before Pliskova began warming up to the task, behind a big first serve and powerful ground strokes.
Kerber managed to stay a break ahead under increasing pressure before finally breaking the Czech again to take an entertaining opening stanza.
Pliskova looked the stronger of the two in the second set and got her just rewards when she finally broke Kerber to win the seventh game and take a 4-3 lead. It was a significant momentum changer and the rangy Czech held on to close out the set 6-4 and force a decider.
The increasing tension and humidity saw Kerber blink first in the final stanza. Pliskova broke at 1-1 and then consolidated the break to take a 3-1 lead. Kerber’s negative body language illustrated the momentum change more than the score. Pliskova was now holding all the cards and looked in the driving seat to win her first ever major.
A pre-2016 Angelique Kerber might have checked out at this stage, but the German has evolved physically and mentally since the turn of the year.
“I think I was really working on my mental thing… I was just telling myself to stay positive like I did in Australia. I was thinking a little bit of the Australian final” admitted Kerber during the post-match dissection of the third set with the media.
The cauldron of pressure swirling around the stadium saw Pliskova tighten a little. Kerber held to love to make it 2-3 and then broke back to tie things up at 3 games each.
The next game saw a defining moment at 30-30 with Kerber crushing a backhand winner down the line to send the crowd into overdrive and signify a final shift in momentum.
“I know I have to be aggressive against her… I think this down the line forehand was the shot of the third set and the key for the match” Kerber said to the ESPN team, post-match.
Pliskova levelled things up at 4-4 but couldn’t make any inroads into the Kerber service game and was forced to serve to stay in the match at 4-5. Kerber could smell the opportunity, racing out quickly to a 0-40 lead and three championship points. Pliskova missed again and Kerber fell to the floor in delight having won the last eight points of the match to seize her first US Open crown and second Grand Slam title.
US OPEN CHAMPION!!! WOW, I DID IT!!! pic.twitter.com/YpWv5A7jaM
— Angelique Kerber (@AngeliqueKerber) September 10, 2016
On Monday, Kerber will be Germany’s first female to sit on top of the WTA rankings since the great Steffi Graf occupied the slot back in March 1997.