US Open | Angelique Kerber reaffirms No.1 ranking with maiden US Open title

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US Open | Angelique Kerber reaffirms No.1 ranking with maiden US Open title

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Utkarsh Arora

09/11/2016

The new World No.1 Angelique Kerber became the first German woman since Steffi Graf (1996) to win the US Open title when she overcame Karolina Pliskova in women’s final on Saturday. Kerber defeated the Czech 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a gripping final that had a bit of everything.

Angelique Kerber has had a good weekend in a lot of ways. On Monday, she inherited the #1 ranking from Serena Williams, and the cherry on the wonderful cake, that is her life, is that she now has a second Grand Slam title to her name as well.

10th seeded Pliskova, conqueror of the great Serena Williams, had never reached the second week of a grand slam event before, with this being her first appearance in the finals. Kerber, on the other hand, already had this year’s Australian Open title in the bag where she had marked her authority on the big stage.

Pliskova is regarded as one of the biggest underachievers for someone of her talent and gameplay and leads the WTA tour with a staggering 446 aces. She was, however, the only woman in the top 20 to have never reached the quarter final stage of a Grand Slam event prior to her appearance at the Flushing Meadows. Kerber, on the other hand, has had a great year and come Monday, she becomes the highest ranked women's player in the world.

The match started with some nerves for Pliskova who was broken in the very first game. This was Kerber’s 3rd Grand Slam final appearance of 2016 and the German showed no signs of slipping up as she wasn’t to be broken and held on to her break to wrap up the first set 6-3. Pliskova was back to her big powerful serves in her second service game, but It was a set of a lot of unforced errors for her(17) as compared to a minuscule (3) by Kerber. The German held on to her lead courtesy of some gritting forehand winners time and again and was just 1 set away from her 2nd Grand Slam title and her maiden US Open title.

The second set remained on serve for the first 3 games. Kerber was really being put to a fight by Pliskova who refused to hand in the towel in the humid conditions at the Arthur Ashe stadium. Pliskova broke Kerber in the 7th game with a wonderful volley winner and rallied her way back into the match. It looked like the match would go the distance.

The German was putting pressure on the Czech’s serve but the powerful Pliskova held her nerve to close out the second set and took the match to a decider. The New York crowd was well and truly up and applauding these two. Both the players were tiring at this point, and it was a tad more evident on Pliskova as she tried to keep the points short. The longer the points went on, the more it favoured Kerber.

In the 3rd game of the final deciding set, Kerber wobbled on her serve. Too many unforced errors in a single game, and Pliskova had a break handed to her on a platter. The banging of her racket was sign enough of Kerber’s frustration, and one felt this was the opening that Pliskova just had to capitalize on if she was going to see this through.

Pliskova was ever so close to the finish line, but Kerber wasn’t done just yet. The German used her arsenal of shots to fight her way back into the game. She produced one forehand winner after another and broke the Czech’s serve twice, while holding onto her own serves, to put the pressure right back on Pliskova, who now had to serve to stay in the match.

Kerber underlined why she is will be the world no.1 with a dazzling fight back. The nerves probably got to Pliskova in the end who faltered at 4-5 and sent a forehand long to send Kerber and her camp into celebrations as the German collapsed on the court with joy.

Pliskova has finally made a name for herself and come Monday, she’ll break into the top 10 with a career high ranking of 6. Make no mistake, though, this has been Kerber’s breakthrough year, and what a year it has been. 2015 was not a good year for Kerber, and she ended the year ranked 10th having failed to get past the 3rd round of any of the Grand Slams. On Saturday, she amassed her 54th win of 2016, and her rise to the big stage this year has been enormous and nothing short of spectacular.

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