With the number one spot already confirmed heading into the final, Angelique Kerber can further improve on her amazing 2016 by winning the title against Czech Karolina Pliskova. Neither player has made the US Open final before but it will be Kerber’s third slam final of the year.
Before 2016, Kerber had always looked a solid top 10 player but it never looked like she would take the next step and really challenge the elite. With two of the game’s biggest stars out in Sharapova and Azarenka, the tour needed someone to step up and the German did so with aplomb. A stunning win over Serena Williams in the Australian Open final set the ball rolling. Her round one loss in the French Open now looks a blip rather than a failure to build on her successes with the final 2 slams of the year resulting in at least 2 finals, dependent on what happens in this match.
She is yet to drop a set and was comfortable in victories over the 2015 and 2014 losing finalists in the quarter finals and semi finals respectively. Her 6-4 6-3 victory looks generous to Wozniacki with only late struggles meaning that either set was competitive with Kerber leading the first 4-0 and the second 5-1 before Wozniacki fought back. With her No.1 spot already confirmed before that match started, she was assured and played with the swagger of the world’s best player rather than succumbing to the pressure.
Kerber would have been No.1 a few weeks earlier had she not lost the Cincinnati final the the very same opponent she plays on Saturday afternoon. Pliskova won that one easily 6-3 6-1 but previous meetings between the two in 2015 were both outstanding affairs. Kerber won out on both occasions in lengthy three-setters to win the Stanford and Birmingham titles respectively.
On what she needs to do this time round, Kerber said “I think my serve has to be very good. I have to move good, as well, to bring a lot of balls back, and playing also more aggressive like I played in Cincinnati. I was just pushing too much the balls there, so I think I will change this a little bit and go for it, being aggressive.”
That Pliskova victory in Cincinnati forms part of her current 11 match winning streak which looks even more impressive when you consider that she had wins over the World No.1, No.2 and No.3 in that short span of time as well as two other wins over top 10 players Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams. It’s an impressive list of scalps for someone who looks to have finally made at the very top with this run – her first past the third round of a slam.
The home fans may be disappointed to miss out on Serena Williams making the final for the second year running but don’t write this match off. With both players in the form of their life, it could be one of the matches of the year if nerves don’t strike either player but particularly Pliskova.
Prediction – Angelique Kerber in three sets