WTA Brisbane: Karolina Pliskova edges Madison Keys to defend title

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WTA Brisbane: Karolina Pliskova edges Madison Keys to defend title

World no. 2 Karolina Pliskova became the first back-to-back Brisbane champion since Serena Williams in 2013-14, defeating Madison Keys 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours and seven minutes. It is the 16th WTA crown for the 27-year-old Czech, the first with Daniel Vallverdu and the third in Brisbane in the last four years, always producing her best tennis in the season opener.

Surprisingly, it was the first meeting between Karolina and Madison and it had to go down to the wire, with both players showing great tennis this week to topple all the rivals and find themselves in the battle for the trophy.

In the end, Pliskova won five points more than the American, suffering three breaks and delivering four on the other hand to cross the finish line and kick off the year with a victory. After seven easy holds, Karolina had to save two break points in the eighth game, forcing an error from Madison and hitting a service winner to get out of jail and level the score at 4-4.

With the momentum on her side, she broke Keys at love in the next game and closed the set in the tenth game for a 6-4 after 39 minutes. The American wasted game points at 2-2 in set number two, spraying a forehand error to give serve away and pushing Pliskova closer to the finish line.

Out of sudden, Keys broke back at love thanks to a forehand error from the Czech, leveling the score at 3-3 and holding at love with a service winner to gain the advantage. She had the upper hand on the court now, scoring another break at 5-4 to grab the set and send the encounter into a decider.

There, they stayed locked up until game seven when Karolina won four straight points to clinch a break, forcing an error from Madison in the next game to move closer to the finish line. Serving for the victory at 5-4, Pliskova got broken following a volley winner from Keys who extended her chances before squandering game points in the 11th game to suffer a break and send the Czech 6-5 up.

There were no mistakes for Karolina this time around, firing four service winners to seal the deal and lift the first trophy of the season.