Angelique Kerber won her second major title on Saturday at the US Open as she defeated Karolina Pliskova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to claim the trophy in New York.
After winning the Australian Open in the beginning of the year, and now the US Open, Kerber became the first player other than Serena Williams to win two majors in one year since Justine Henin did so in 2007. This title for the German proves that she deserves the No. 1 ranking that she will receive on Monday.
“It means a lot to me. When I was a kid I was always dreaming to one day be the No. 1 player in the world. To win Grand Slams. And today is the day. I won my second Grand Slam here…I’m the No. 1 player on Monday, so it’s just amazing,” said Kerber. “All the dreams came true this year.”
Both players came into the final with loads of confidence, which goes without saying as both had won six matches in New York to get to this point. Kerber, though, was playing with the comfort in her mind that, win or lose, she would be the new No. 1 player in the world when the rankings come out on Monday.
Pliskova, on the other hand, made it past the third round of a major for the first time and was on an 11-match win streak that included her title in Cincinnati that saw her defeat Kerber in the final.
Pliskova, who hit 40 winners and 47 unforced errors in the match, got off to a shaky start, as expected in her first major final, and Kerber took advantage. A break in the opening game by Kerber was followed up by an impressive serving performance in the first set in which she saved all three break points that she faced. Already up a break at 5-3, the German was able to break again to take the set and put herself just one set away from her second major title.
The tables turned in the second set, though, as Pliskova massively raised her level. The Czech didn’t face a single break point in the set and was able to continuously pressure the serve of the 2016 Australian Open champion. Three of Kerber’s five service games in the set went to deuce, and one of the games that didn’t was the game in which Pliskova was able to break. That one break was all the No. 10 seed needed to level the match and forced a deciding third set.
“I just found in myself some power in the second set,” said Pliskova, who won 89 percent of her first serve points in the second set.
Pliskova continued to play at her high level in the third set, breaking Kerber early to get a crucial lead. After going down 3-1, though, Kerber was able to fight back and get back on serve, winning three games in a row to make it 4-3.
From that point forward, both players were playing at peak levels. Kerber was playing her steady game and hit virtually no errors in the latter stages of the match, while Pliskova was blasting the ball from all over the court.
Serving at 4-5, though, Pliskova began to falter, as she had in the opening set. Kerber capitalized on this brief lapse from the Czech and broke at love to close out the match and win her second major title.
“I was really trying to stay in the moment, trying to play my game and being aggressive. I was just really trying to enjoy the final,” said Kerber of her comeback in the third set.
After a stellar 2016 season that saw her win two major titles and reach the No. 1 spot in the rankings, Kerber has little left to prove to the tennis world at the age of 28.
“Just amazing. I won my second Grand Slam in one year. That’s the best year in my career. It’s actually just incredible…it means so much to me,” said Kerber. “Congrats to Karolina…the last few months you have played incredible. You are a tough opponent and for sure you have a great future.”
“Congrats to Angie, she really proved she’s the world No. 1. It was a great match and I’m very honored to play with you,” said Pliskova, who is just 24-years old. “Even though I couldn’t get the win I’m really proud of myself. I’m really happy the way I was playing the last three weeks and hopefully many more titles to come.”