Angelique Kerber beats Karolina Pliskova to win US Open

Sep 8 2016 New York NY USA Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic returns a shot to Serena Williams of the United States on day eleven of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODA

"I found out I can play my best tennis on the biggest stages against the top players", Pliskova said.

Early in what would become a tight test of a U.S. Open final, Angelique Kerber sprinted forward to somehow reach a drop shot and scoop a down-the-line victor that landed in a corner of the court.

"Definitely she played a few finals of grand slams already".

But she was assured of that spot when Pliskova toppled Williams in the semi-finals.

Play remained tight in the third with an increasingly confident Pliskova getting the early break to go up 3-1.

"I was really trying to improve a lot of things", she explained following her 6-3 4-6 6-4 triumph after falling a break down in the third set.

Kerber was born five days before Graf won the Australian Open in 1988.

She has crushed more aces than any other player on the WTA tour this year, but on Saturday that weapon was not quite enough. From 4-4 in the third set, Kerber won the final eight points of the match.

"I was so happy to get the biggest title of my career", Pliskova said of Cincinnati.

Karolina Pliskova has taken the second set of the U.S. Open final against Angelique Kerber, sending the match to a third. In the ensuing game, Kerber saved a break point with a forehand victor.

Kerber takes home the winners' cheque for 3.5million United States dollars and becomes the first woman, other than Williams, to win two grand slams in a year since Justine Henin in 2007. She had never gone past the third round in a major.

Indeed, there was no Serena Williams but plenty of drama and Kerber and the 10th-seeded Pliskova could be mainstays on the final weekend of Flushing's event for years to come. Murray and Soares only teamed up late past year.

The German Kerber has won four of seven but Pliskova won their most recent meeting last month in Cincinnati losing just four games.

Pliskova, who had beaten both Serena and Venus Williams en route to the final, opened the serving but was broken in the first game of the match itself after a couple of unforced errors.

Kerber seized her chance with a forehand down the line to pocket the first frame in 44 minutes. She put almost 80 percent of her returns in play - negating Pliskova's biggest advantage - and made nothing easy; even on the points Pliskova won with screaming winners, Kerber often made her hit two or three extra balls. Pliskova, the Open's No. 10 seed, is playing her first Grand Slam title match.

Her level of improvement is unusual so late in a tennis career in the women's game. Kerber won the Australian Open title and was the runner-up at Wimbledon. This Angelique Kerber is a two-time Slam champion and the world No. 1. Pliskova had never even made a Grand Slam round of 16 before this tournament, but she upset Serena Williams in the semifinals to advance to Saturday's championship match.

Kerber will take all of that and all her heavy hardware to Monday, when the rankings computer will kick in and list her at No. 1, making her the oldest player - at 28 - to arrive there for the first time.

It was Pliskova who guaranteed Kerber's ascension in the rankings by beating Williams in the semifinals, ending her streak of 186 consecutive weeks at the top, which began in February 2013 and equaled Graf's mark.

After going 15-40 down in the opening game the Czech saved the first break point with an ace but put a poor attempt at a drop shot wide on the second. The duo only teamed up late a year ago. "I had so much pressure after the title".

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