Doha 2017: Day-6. The Champions

After a week loaded with frustrating uncertainty, persistent rain and scheduling challenges that left most of the field doubling-up matches at least once during the tournament – Inconceivably, the Qatar Total Open 2017 ended on-time. Karolina Pliskova captured her 8th career singles title with a win over Caroline Wozniacki, while Katarina Srebotnik and Abigail Spears each earned their 2nd Doha doubles title, defeating Yaroslava Shvedova and Olga Savchuk in the Final.

Champion Karolina Pliskova. Finalist Caroline Wozniacki

Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki

Doha Champions Katarina Srebotnik and Abigail Spears

Katarina Srebotnik and Abigail Spears

 
Saturday’s conditions were markedly different than we’d seen all week. Instead of the constant threat of rain, the Finalists were forced to struggle with extreme wind and bitter cold. Karolina Pliskova showcased a confidence that has blossomed since her win over Serena Williams in the US Open Semifinals, earning her first career victory over both Dominka Cibulkova and Caroline Wozniacki to capture the title. The win was even more rewarding knowing the mental focus and physical stamina it took just to reach the championship match.
 

The Qatar Total Open 2017 Trophy Ceremony. Karolina Pliskova

Qatar Total Open 2017. The Singles Championship

 
[2] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d C. Wozniacki (DEN) 63 64. Karolina Pliskova was on a mission Saturday night, coming off a 21-ace performance against Dominika Cibulkova the night prior. She broke Wozniacki twice before the first sit-down, jumped ahead 4-0, and maintained momentum to earn the first set 6-3. On serve at 2-all in the second, Wozniacki gave herself a fighting chance. Caroline took two second serves early and found herself up 0-30; but Karolina regrouped and overpowered Caroline with several punishing serves to keep the set level. At 4-5, Wozniacki serving to stay in the match, Pliskova smelled blood. The Czech shot ahead 0-30, then 15-40, needing only one match point to capture the title.

Karolina earned her 8th WTA title in her 18th career Final. It was Caroline’s 43rd career Final and second at the Qatar Total Open. She’s actually appeared in three Finals on this court – in 2010, she reached the championship match of the WTA Finals in Doha, falling to Kim Clijsters in three sets.

KAROLINA PLISKOVA. Champion.

FF def. Caroline Wozniacki 63 64
SF def. Dominika Cibulkova 64 46 63
QF def. Shuai Zhang 62 60
2R def. Caroline Garcia 75 64
1R (bye)

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI. Finalist.

FF ---- Karolina Pliskova 36 46
SF def. Monica Puig 61 62
QF def. Lauren Davis 75 61
2R def. Agnieszka Radwanska 75 63
1R def. Kiki Bertens 62 63

 

The Qatar Total Open 2017 Trophy Ceremony. Caroline Wozniacki

Qatar Total Open 2017. The Doubles Championship

 
[4] A. Spears (USA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) d O. Savchuk (UKR) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 63 76(7).

In potentially her final season on tour – she’s now ‘noncommittal’ after this week with Katarina – American Abigail Spears won her 19th WTA doubles title in her 28th career Final. Last month, she won her first Grand Slam title, winning the Mixed Doubles competition at the Australian Open with Juan Sebastian Cabal.

Katarina Srebotnik earned her 37th WTA doubles title in her 77th career Final; her fourth Final in Doha. Insane numbers. During the trophy ceremony, Katarina said she’s always surprised to hear the numbers and doesn’t even pay attention to them anymore. She deflected most of the attention to praise her partner, with hopes of keeping Abigail on tour a while longer. Both earned their second Doha doubles titles (2011-Srebotnik with Kveta Peschke, 2015-Spears with Raquel Atawo).

Abigail Spears and Katarina Srebotnik. Selfie time with fans

Olga Savchuk. Can't get enough of your winning, babe...

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more kind and compassionate player on the WTA Tour than Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk. After such a successful start to the year, she is soaking-up the unfamiliar attention she’s receiving. In week one, she and partner Raluca Olaru reached the doubles final in Shezhen. A week later, they won the title in Hobart. Saturday was Olga’s third Final of 2017, matching her career total of doubles finals before the start of the year.

While most players are keenly focused before a championship match, she briefly interrupted her practice to say hello. Before the trophy ceremony, she pulled me aside to say: “I finally figured out who your voice reminds me of…Barry White.”

WHAT?! So after a quick serenade of “Can’t Get Enough of your [Winning] Babe,” we launched into one of the most informal trophy ceremonies I’ve ever hosted. Everyone was freezing as winds swept the court. The players huddled together to stay warm, refusing to move at photographers’ requests.

It was a fitting, loosely-spooled end to a nutty week in Doha. With a first round walkover, Yaroslava and Olga basically played an entire tournament in just over 24-hours, winning their Quarterfinal and Semifinal matches on Friday to reach the Final on Saturday.