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10 Things To Know: Kerber Vs Pliskova

10 Things To Know: Kerber Vs Pliskova

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

CINCINNATI, OH, USA – Following a couple of semifinal masterclasses, Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova go into Sunday’s Western & Southern Open final on top of their game. Here are 10 of SAP’s finest facts ahead of their summer showdown…

(2) Angelique Kerber (GER #2) vs Karolina Pliskova (CZE #17)
Head-To-Head:
Kerber leads, 4-2

1) Pliskova has historically proven to be a difficult foe for Kerber.
Despite sitting 15 places above Pliskova in the rankings, Kerber has struggled in their previous match-ups. While several of these came prior to Pliskova establishing herself at the top of the game, the recent encounters have invariably been close. This is also the third straight time they have clashed in a final, following three-set victories for the German last year in Birmingham and Stanford.

2) Both players no stranger to the business end of tournaments.
Since those encounters one summer ago, both Kerber and Pliskova have been regular finalists. Pliskova lost out in a high-quality shoot-out with Venus Williams at the season-ending WTA Elite Trophy, then enjoyed mixed fortunes at the grass court events in Nottingham and Eastbourne this June. Kerber, meanwhile has mixed it at a higher level, most memorably beating Serena Williams at the Australian Open to lift her maiden Grand Slam. She followed this up with a title in Stuttgart before going on to contest the finals at Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics.

3) The form guide.
After a slight lull following January’s Australian Open triumph, Kerber has enjoyed a productive summer, appearing in the Wimbledon and Olympic finals, winning 19 of her past 22 matches. Pliskova’s campaign, on the other hand, has been more of an up and down affair, standout performances in Nottingham, Eastbourne and Indian Wells (where she ran Victoria Azarenka close in the semifinals) interspersed with several surprise losses and her continued search for a breakthrough at one of the four majors.

4) Flying the flag.
Since its return to the circuit in 2003, players from seven different countries (Belarus, Belgium, China, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland and the USA) have been crowned Cincinnati champion. The closest a Czech or German came during this time was Kerber’s loss to Li Na in the 2012 final, so the number is guaranteed to rise to eight.

5) Outsider for the title.
World No.17 Pliskova is bidding to become the first player ranked outside the Top 10 to triumph at the Lindner Family Tennis center since No.21 Nadia Petrova in 2008.

6) Change in Cincinnati fortunes.
Aside from her visits to the final this year and in 2012, Kerber has struggled to make an impression in Cincinnati, winning a combined total of four matches from her other four visits. Pliskova’s resume was even barer, losing her second match in 2015 after falling in qualifying the previous three years. 

7) Cincinnati will have a significant impact on the WTA rankings.
Victory for Kerber on Sunday will see her end Serena Williams’ 183-week reign atop the rankings. She will be the 22nd woman to reach World No.1 and first German since the legendary Steffi Graf. Pliskova’s run, meanwhile, guarantees she will rise to at least No.15, and No.11 should she lift the title. 

8) Path to the final.
After edging past Barbora Strycova in two closely contested sets, Kerber’s No.1 hopes looked to be fizzling out when she trailed quarterfinal opponent Carla Suárez Navarro by a set and a break. Somehow she escaped before ending Simona Halep’s 13-match winning streak in the semifinals. Pliskova has also dropped just the one set, against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals, on an otherwise serene journey to the final.  

9) Hard to beat.
Bother finalists have enjoyed some of the sweetest – as well as heartbreaking – moments of their career on hardcourts. This will be Kerber’s 15th final on hard (she was victorious in five of the previous 14), while nine of Pliskova’s 15 finals have come on the surface, winning three of them.

10) Pliskova serving notice.
Pliskova progress has been helped by some particularly potent serving. In four matches she has fired 40 aces and been broken just four times. Kerber, by contrast, has hit seven aces and lost her serve 10 times. 

SAP Insights

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Belinda Bencic To Make Top 10 Debut

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Belinda Bencic has been checking off a number of career firsts at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy this week: first time playing a WTA event in Saint Petersburg, Russia; first time being the No.1 seed at a WTA event and, as of Monday’s WTA Rankings, first time ever in the WTA Top 10.

By reaching the final at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, Bencic is guaranteed to break into the Top 10 ranking – she moved to No.9 by reaching the final and could climb as high as No.7 if she wins the title.

“This is a very big day for me,” Bencic said in an interview after defeating Daria Kasatkina in the semifinal (highlights here). “As a small kid, everyone is dreaming to one day become Top 10. And now I realize that all the hard work paid off. Until now, I didn’t know if I would make it.

“But this is an amazing moment for me and just… my dream. My goal is reached.”

This time last year, the Swiss prodigy was ranked No.37 and already on an upward trajectory, currently sitting at No.11. A flourishing 2015 saw her win a title in Eastbourne – defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in the final – and in Toronto – notching wins over Serena Williams and Simona Halep along the way – as well as reach two finals.

She might have just accomplished her dream of a Top 10 debut, but there are still plenty more milestones for Bencic to reach – after all, at 18 years old she’s just getting started.

“So yeah, now my next goals are just to keep climbing up, to keep winning matches and still to enjoy it.”

 

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Notes & Netcords: August 22, 2016

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

THE WINNERS

No.15 seed Karolina Pliskova stunned World No.2 Angelique Kerber, 6-3, 6-1, to win the biggest tournament of her career at the Western & Southern Open, and temporarily halt the German’s bid at becoming No.1 in the world.

Kerber came into the final looking to end Serena Williams’ 183 consecutive week stretch atop the WTA rankings, but will now have to wait until New York to have another shot at the top.

“Angie’s had an amazing week and has done a great job all year,” Pliskova said in her acceptance speech. “I know she was playing for World No.1; I think you deserve to be No.1, but maybe next time!”

Click here for match recap and highlights. | WTA Insider As It Happened: Game-by-game analysis.

In the doubles draw, World Co-No.1s Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis reached the Western & Southern Open final, but found themselves on opposite sides of the net as Mirza and new partner Barbora Strycova recovered from 5-1 in the opening set to beat Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe, 7-5, 6-4.

“I’m not going to lie,” Mirza said after the match. “It’s a very difficult situation. It’s not easy because, A, because we are still good friends, so it’s never easy. The first we tournament we split and we come and we have to play each other. Of course there is no better match to play than the final, so was difficult, I think. for both of us.

“But having said that we are professional tennis players. We have to come out and we have to give our best and we have to try and win. That’s all we can do.”

Click here for match recap. | WTA Insider As It Happened: Game-by-game analysis.


RANKING MOVERS:
Notable singles ranking movers for the week of August 22, 2016.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), +1 (No.5 to 4): The Pole’s run to the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open earns Radwanska a small ranking jump that could have big implications when the US Open seeds are announced.

Karolina Pliskova (CZE), +6 (No.17 to 11): Pliskova pulled off a big upset in the final in Cincy, and as a result she jumps up six spots to No.11, putting her within striking distance of the Top 10 once more.

Alizé Cornet (FRA), +11 (No.58 to 47): Once ranked No.11, the Frenchwoman saw her ranking drop after an injury-plagued season. But she’s now finding her way back as her run to the second round of Cincy after qualifying puts her inside the Top 50.


UPCOMING TOURNAMENTS

Connecticut Open
New Haven, USA
Premier | $695,900 | Hard, Outdoor
Sunday, August 21 – Saturday, August 27

US Open
New York, USA
Grand Slam | $ TBA | Hard, Outdoor
Monday, August 29 – Sunday, September 11

Dalian Women’s Tennis Open
Dalian, China
125K | $115,000 | Hard, Outdoor
Tuesday, September 6 – Sunday, September 11

TOP 20 PLAYER SCHEDULES
1. Serena Williams -US Open
2. Angelique Kerber – US Open
3. Garbiñe Muguruza – US Open
4. Agnieszka Radwanska – New Haven, US Open
5. Simona Halep – US Open
6. Venus Williams – US Open
7. Victoria Azarenka
8. Roberta Vinci – New Haven, US Open
9. Madison Keys – US Open
10. Svetlana Kuznetsova – US Open
11. Karolina Pliskova – US Open
12. Carla Suárez Navarro – US Open
13. Dominika Cibulkova – US Open
14. Johanna Konta – US Open
15. Petra Kvitova – New Haven, US Open
16. Timea Bacsinszky – New Haven, US Open
17. Samantha Stosur – US Open
18. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – US Open
19. Barbora Strycova – US Open
20. Elena Vesnina – New Haven, US Open


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
Best wishes to those celebrating birthdays this week:

Olga Govortsova (BLR) – August 23, 1988
Maryna Zanevska (UKR) – August 24, 1993
Ons Jabeur (TUN) – August 28, 1994

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Cirstea Clears Into Rio Quarterfinal

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – 2009 French Open quarterfinalist Sorana Cirstea looked primed to crack the Top 20 in 2013 following a run to the final of the Rogers Cup, but a shoulder injury stunted her progress for the last 18 months – causing her to fall out of the Top 240 late last fall. Now fit and healthy, the Romanian roared into the quarterfinals of the Rio Open with a 7-5, 7-6(3) upset win over No.5 seed Polona Hercog.

“It has been a year and half that I was struggling with the shoulder,” Cirstea said after the match. “It was a frustrating time. But I’m very happy it’s over. I changed my team, a Romanian one from back home. I’m trying to settle everything down. I was able to practice very hard in the off-season; I was healthy and that’s the most important thing for me.

“This injury was also a lesson; I’m enjoying my time on the court more, being pain-free and being able to play on a high level.”

Cirstea began the year by reaching back-to-back finals on the ITF Challenger level, but her two wins in Rio are her first in a WTA main draw since last summer in Bucharest; by beating Hercog, the wildcard reaches her first WTA quarterfinal since 2014 (Tianjin).

“Playing the final in Guaruja and winning Bertioga three weeks and two weeks ago was a plus for me. I think everyone knows last year I was injured in my shoulder, so at this moment I’m trying to play a lot of matches.

“I was very happy to play ten matches before coming here and I already have two this week, so I’m quite pleased with the way things are going.”

Armed with a new philosphy and more positive perspective, Cirstea could next play No.3 seed Danka Kovinic, who first has to face Sílvia Soler Espinosa in her second round match.

“First of all, I’m trying to stay healthy. That’s the biggest thing; I’m still doing my shoulder rehab, so that will be my main key for this year. I also want to play a lot of matches, get that confidence from winning some.

“I’m seeing things from a different perspective; I’m enjoying traveling more and playing and I’m just trying to focus on the practice and getting better every day, and not on the results because if I practice well, the results will come.

“The objective is to get back to the Top 100. That’s the plan, and I like to go step by step.”

Earlier in the day, former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone survived a tough three setter against Mariana Duque-Marino, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, while resurgent American Shelby Rogers took out Veronica Cepede Royg, 7-5, 6-4. Cindy Burger won the battle of qualifiers by taking out Elitsa Kostova, 6-3, 6-0.

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