CINCINNATI, OH, USA - 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.
"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!"
Kerber came into the final looking to end Serena Williams' 183 consecutive week stretch atop the WTA rankings, and having won her last two meetings over Pliskova - leading 4-2 in their overall head-to-head.
But after a week of spectacular tennis from the tall Czech powerhouse, it was clear that Pliskova had come to play in Sunday's final, racing out to a 4-0 lead to start the match. Though Kerber narrowed the gap to one break, Pliskova held firm to break once more at 5-3, and put herself a set from her first Premier title - let alone first on the Premier 5 level.
"I playing aggressive enough, almost without mistakes," Pliskova said in her post-match press conference. "The serve was good. Forehand. Backhand. There was not one thing what I would change in this match.
"I'm that it went this way. I was still expecting during the match some complication as always it is in tennis, but happy it went like this."
d. Ostapenko, 6-4, 6-1.
d. Doi, 7-5, 6-3.
d. Kuznetsova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
d. Muguruza, 6-1, 6-3.
d. Kerber, 6-3, 6-1.
? WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 21, 2016
Pliskova maintained her scintillating form throughout the match, striking seven aces and 24 winners.
"With the serve what I have it's not always about the percentage. If I can still hit few aces, especially on the important points, that's the main thing for me. Like if it's 30-All or break points down, it's important to hit the first serve and have the easy point for me."
Kerber, who had come straight to Cincinnati from the Olympic tennis event in Rio, managed just 16 winners and hit 32 unforced errors under the pressure of Pliskova's aggression.
"I would like to congratulate Karolina; you had an amazing week and played really well today," Kerber said in her runner-up speech. "You deserved to win today.
"It's a really great tournament and I love coming back here for my second final."
Digging out over several long games in the second set - none longer than the last as she served for the title, the former World No.7 saved a break point before sealing victory on her second championship point.
"I'm always learning from the tournaments and finals what I've played. This tournament I was, like I said, improving round to round. That's the main thing, that you can play the best tennis in the final.
"I remember the tennis this year in Eastbourne and I was playing my best tennis I think in the third or the second round. Which can't be possible. You cannot win a tournament like this. So this is - it should be like this. You have to play the best tennis against those players in semifinal and final, otherwise you don't have the chance to beat them."
For Kerber, it was still an excellent week for the only player to reach the quarterfinals or better at the Rogers Cup, Olympic tennis event, and the Western & Southern Open, and hopes for a strong finish to what has been the best season of her career.
"I had such a great year so far and it's not over yet. I won my first Grand Slam and everything what's happened last months is just incredible. I try and enjoy it. Some days you're losing matches; some days you win.
"I will try to take the positive things from the match and from the last few weeks actually to going to New York then."
? WTA (@WTA) August 21, 2016