Karolina Pliskova: 'I played my best tennis in '19 this week in Eastbourne'

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Karolina Pliskova: 'I played my best tennis in '19 this week in Eastbourne'

Karolina Pliskova was the player to beat this week in Eastbourne, scoring five dominant wins for her third WTA crown on grass and the second here in Eastbourne in three years. The Czech got broken only twice in ten sets, having the upper hand on both serve and return against every opponent to march throughout the field and head to Wimbledon with the trophy in her hands.

In the title clash on Saturday, Karolina took down the defending Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-4 in 71 minutes for the fifth win in 12 tests against the German, becoming the second player of the season with three titles after Ashleigh Barty.

Serving at 76%, the Czech held everything under control all the time, dropping 18 points in her games and facing only two break points, firing 33 winners and 16 unforced errors and challenging Kerber to repeat that if she wanted to stay in contention.

Angelique gave her best to follow the rival's pace, breaking Karolina once and delivering 22 winners with 19 errors, losing the edge after a mediocre performance on serve that saw Pliskova earning four straight breaks to march over the finish line.

Karolina drew first blood in the second game of the match, claiming a break at 15 when Angelique sent a backhand long and cementing the advantage with a forehand winner for a 3-0. Unable to find the rhythm or impose her shots, Kerber sprayed a backhand error to suffer another break in game four before pulling one break back after a loose drop shot from Pliskova, reducing the deficit to 4-1.

Karolina stayed composed, though, stealing her rival's serve for the third time in a row with a forehand winner that propelled her 5-1 up, repelling a break point in the next game to close the set 6-1 after just 29 minutes.

Netting an easy forehand at the beginning of the second set, Kerber suffered the fourth straight break and that proved to be the pivotal moment, with Pliskova serving well in the rest of the set to bring the win home. The German fought much stronger than in the opener but there was nothing she could do in the return games, saving three break points at 2-4 to remain within one break deficit before Karolina crossed the finish line with a backhand crosscourt winner in game ten to celebrate the title and travel to Wimbledon as one of the favorites.

"The entire week was perfect for me, playing aggressive and going for my shots from the first until the last match. In the final, the second set became tighter when Angelique raised her level but I served great and brought it home.

The match wasn't easy despite the scoreboard, it was quite hard. Kerber is lefty and everything has to be the opposite in comparison to my previous matches. We played against each other so many times in the past and I knew the final would be super tough, I just tried to play my best and open the court while serving to her backhand.

Everything worked quite well for me today, going for my shots. I played my best tennis in 2019 at this tournament and I will have a shot at Wimbledon despite the fact we all start from zero. It will be difficult, probably more mentally than physically but I feel ready to make a start on Monday. I will try to hit some balls on Sunday afternoon and get ready for that first match."