Angelique Kerber has won the US Open, downing Karolina Pliskova in the women’s finals on Saturday, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Kerber had already earned the world No. 1 ranking thanks to Serena Williams losing in the semifinals, but this will strengthen her case.
Pliskova was the woman who bested Williams, and she herself beat Kerber in the finals at Cincinnati prior to the US Open, so she still has to have plenty of confidence. It was her first ever Grand Slam final appearance and going forward, she has put the rest of the field on notice.
Not just by besting Williams, but by pushing Kerber to three sets and giving her a very tough go of it in the finals.
Kerber took the first set without issue, though it had a lot more to do with Pliskova’s sloppy play than anything. Pliskova hit a huge 17 unforced errors in the first set alone, while Kerber had just three of them. She also double faulted twice.
But Pliskova calmed down, found her groove and only committed 12 unforced errors in the second set. She also won on a massive 89 percent of her first serves, and converted the one break she needed to take the second set, 6-4.
In the third, Pliskova enjoyed her first lead of the match. After holding serve on the opening game, she had a double break opportunity and managed to earn the break on her second attempt. From there, she held her serve and took a 3-1 lead in the final set. But Kerber held her next serve, and she battled back to break Pliskova to tie things up and get the match back on serve.
Kerber held again, and then fought Pliskova to deuce. She managed to score the break and was suddenly threatening to win. She held brilliantly and ended up taking the match.
Kerber’s win at the US Open caps off a brilliant 2016 campaign. She won both the US Open and the Australian Open, and made it to the finals of Wimbledon on top of that. Her late career resurgence is a surprise to many, but she will have all the confidence in the world going forward.
Pliskova has now played in her first Grand Slam final — now she needs to get back to one and win it.