Pliskova Sets US Open Showdown With Kerber

NEW YORK, September 9, 2016

Karolina Pliskova reached her first Grand Slam final in style, shocking top seed Serena Williams, 6-2, 7-6 in the semifinals of the US Open on Thursday. The world number 11 sent down seven aces, winning 84 per cent of her first service points to seal victory in one hour and 25 minutes

“It was always a dream to, you know, get a title, get to the semifinal, get to the final,” Pliskova said in her post-match press conference. “So, I mean, it’s a big result for me. I hope I didn’t stop yet, that there is still one more step to go. I’ll do anything for getting the title.

“Even if I don’t get it, it’s a big result. I’m really happy to be there and even have the chance to play in the final here. It doesn’t happen often that you’re playing a semifinal against Serena on center court here in New York. It doesn’t happen often that you’re in the final of Grand Slams.”

Next up for the 24-year-old Czech is second seed Angelique Kerber, the new World number one after Serena’s loss. Pliskova beat Kerber in the final of Cincinnati just two weeks ago, ironically preventing the German from getting to the top of the rankings earlier.

“I know her very well. We played a lot of times. I lost to her; I won. So I will be ready for anything. That’s a final of a Grand Slam, so anything is possible. Of course, probably nerves from both sides. We both have a good chance to win. But I will just do anything to win the title here,” Pliskova said.

Kerber earned the number one spot before getting on the court and then defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3. The 28-year-old German set the tone early, gaining an early 4-0 lead in the first set and continued to dominate the match in the second. Kerber hit 19 winners and produced only 16 unforced errors to reach her third Grand Slam final of the season in one hour and 26 minutes.

At 28, she is the oldest woman to reach the world number one for the first time and the first German since her idol and mentor, Steffi Graf.

“I was watching the first match a little bit in the end,” Kerber admitted in her on-court interview. “I was trying to focus and not think too much about that. So it’s something really special for me, because, yeah, I was dreaming for this No. 1. I think Steffi will be proud of me to be the next one after her. It’s just incredible. It’s a great day.”

Her coach, Torben Beltz, was impressed by how his player appeared in the semi-final match.

“A perfect day today,” he said. “First she got the No. 1 spot, which is perfect. I think it was tough for her to keep her focus and momentum on the court, but she did very good, and she started the match like a No. 1.”

Doubles Finals Are Set

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares will take on Pablo Carreno-Busta and Guillermo Garcia-López for the men’s doubles title. The Brit/Brazilian duo defeated the defending US Open champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the new Grandstand and will now play for their second Grand Slam title of the season in New York.

“To knock off the champs we had to play at an amazing high level,” Soares said. “These guys have been playing some incredible tennis for the last two years. They’re number one in the  ATP Race To London. They’re the number one seeds, defending champs, so we had to come up with high-quality tennis and I think we were able to do that most of the time.”

The unseeded Spaniards beat their eighth-seeded countrymen Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez 6-3, 7-6. Carreno-Busta and Garcia-Lopez won the only break point they saw to advance in one hour and 29 minutes.

With the win, the Spaniards will play for their first Grand Slam tournament doubles title. “That’s incredible,” Carreno Busta said on court after the match. “I never dreamed to be here playing in the final but I’m really happy because we are playing really good with more confidence.”

In the women’s doubles final Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova will take on top seeded French team of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.