Day-13. 2016 US Open

After winning her second Grand Slam title of 2016, Angelique Kerber is the new World #1. After reaching her first career Grand Slam Final, Karolina Pliskova jumps from World #11 to World #6. The Final was extraordinary.

Angie wasn’t the only one who earned her second Grand Slam title of the year on Ashe Saturday. Australian Open Champs Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray also earned their second career Major in the Men’s Doubles Final.

The Voice of the US Open: A profile on ARD German Radio

[2] Angelique Kerber (GER) def [10] Karolina Pliskova (CZE)

Final 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. On Monday, Angelique Kerber will be the new World #1. Her remarkable year continues after capturing her second Grand Slam title on a humid Saturday evening in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Australian Open champion recovered from a lackluster, post first-Slam-slump by winning her 9th WTA title in Stuttgart. From there, she’d reach the Wimbledon Final, earn Olympic Silver in Rio and play in her 23rd career Final in Cincinnati. Though her winning opponent from that match was across the net tonight, Kerber was on a mission, competing in her third Grand Slam Final of 2016. Insanity. She was all business, ready to justify her top-status with a US Open title…and she delivered.

SET-1

Angelique Kerber
Angelique Kerber

Karolina Pliskova had to shake off the early “first-Slam” nerves in game-1. The WTA Tour’s top-acer badly missed several first-serves and pushed an easy volley wide. She was down a break in the first three minutes of the match. That one behind her, after a Kerber hold, Karolina settled-in and got on the board with a quick hold of her own before the sit-down. Easy service-games wouldn’t be the norm for Monday’s new World #1, though. Pliskova earned her first two break-points right after the changeover; Kerber fought-off both to maintain the lead.

Up 3-2, Kerber settled into a baseline battle with the soon-to-be top-6 Pliskova. Unlike their Final in Cincinnati just before the Open, Pliskova had trouble shortening points by pounding forehands, her statline riddled with unforced errors. At 2-4, her right-wing weapon resurfaced, and she earned some quick points from the forehand side. Fitness, flexibility and hustle handed Kerber her next hold, and she was a game away from taking the opener.

Pressure is a privelege – as Billie Jean says – and it was back on Pliskova, serving to keep set-1 alive. She found herself down 0-15, then 15-30. A double fault at 30-all gave Kerber set-point…and the German pounced. Karolina closed on the net, but left her volley floating. Angelique crushed it with a forehand pass…now just one set away from her second Grand Slam title of the year.

SET-2

At 1-all, Pliskova made Kerber work for the hold, earning her fourth break-point at deuce. Kerber quickly erased it and kept the set level with a deep serve Karolina sent long. At 2-all, you got the sense that this match could still go either way. Would the new Kerber continue to keep her head in every point, every shot? Or would the Kerber of old resurface and fall behind, fueled by frustration? She answered that with a hard-fought hold to go up 3-2, despite struggling with first-serves. She was focused and beyond-determined the hoist the trophy.

At this point, Angelique only had 5 unforced errors in the match. Crazy. No free points for Pliskova. Karolina had to earn everything with winners, of which she had twice as many as the German. One of those winners came in the form of a remarkable lob at the net, earning Karolina her first break of the match to go up 4-3. She’d consolidate to keep the edge.

Suddenly the pressure was on Kerber – serving to stay in the set. A poorly executed drop-shot and double-fault brought the tension to the surface…yet Kerber still managed to win the game without facing break-point. That’s the calm that comes with experience.

Now the weight was firmly on Pliskova’s shoulders, serving to win set-2 in her first career Grand Slam Final. She fell behind 0-15, 15-30…then locked-in, got it to 40-30, and confidently leveled the match. An incredibly clutch hold under the circumstances.

SET-3

All even, the decider started with holds from both. In game-3, Kerber fell behind 15-30. A half-volley miss from Pliskova got us to 30-all. A rare unforced error from Kerber gave Pliskova her 6th break-point. The Czech would then score an early advantage on her seventh break point of the match.

The tide had turned. This went from a determined Kerber victory — to the new World #1 being down a break in the decider; Pliskova, no doubt, gaining confidence knowing she’d beaten Kerber just three weeks prior 6-3, 6-1 to win the Cincinnati title.

Pliskova held to keep the lead. Behind her first ace of the match, Kerber answered with a love-hold of her own. Intense. In game-5, Pliskova fell behind 30-40, missed a backhand wide, and suddenly we were back on-serve at 3-all. More intense. In game-7, Kerber overcame a 0-30 deficit, winning four straight points to keep set-3 on-serve. Even MORE intense!

At 3-4, Pliskova battled through deuce, winning behind big first serves and put-aways at the net. Kerber then benefitted from a few erratic Karolina groundstrokes, taking the lead 5-4 at love.

The pressure was back on Pliskova, serving to stay in the Championship match. Kerber went up 0-15 with a forhand pass. 0-30 with a Pliskova unforced error wide. 0-40 with a Pliskova error at the net. Triple match point. With a Pliskova forehand long and wide, Angelique Kerber won the title with a break, 6-4 in the decider…her second Grand Slam singles title of the year. Amazing.

  • Come Monday, Karolina Pliskova will be World #6.
  • Angelique Kerber will be World #1, and a two-time Grand Slam Champion.

[4] Jamie Murray (GBR) / Bruno Soares (BRA) def Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) / Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

Final 6-2, 6-3. On another humid day in New York, conditions were brutal for the day’s first Championship Match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Australian Open Champion and the first British World #1 in the Open Era, Jamie Murray, received a rub-down for neck-cramping in the second changeover…then held-on to win his second Grand Slam title with parter Bruno Soares in straight-sets.

SET-1

The two teams traded breaks to start the match, then held through Jamie’s neck rub. After the massage, Soares and Murray stole serve from Carreno Busta and jumped ahead 5-2 on Bruno’s serve. Down 40-15 to Garcia-Lopez, the Australian Open champions won the next four points, and the set.

SET-2

Jamie and Bruno saved two break-points to start the second, and got on the board with a hold. Down 40-0 to Carreno Busta, they came from behind again, scoring their 4th break on the Spaniards. It was the final nail in the coffin. Both teams would hold the rest of the way; Jamie Murray serving out the win at love, ending it with a fantastic Soares volley at the net.