Angelique Kerber withstood more than 50 winners to edge WTA Rising Star Karolina Pliskova, lift the Aegon Classic Birmingham title and hang on to her spot in the Top 10.
WTA Staff

BIRMINGHAM, England - Angelique Kerber battled more than two hours - and withstood an incredible 52 winners - to edge WTA Rising Star Karolina Pliskova for the Aegon Classic Birmingham title.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Birmingham right here on!

Pliskova had Kerber in trouble time and time again in the match. After saving four set points in her 3-5 service game she ended up taking the first set in a tie-break, and she went up a break early in the second set too. And even though Kerber stormed back to take the second set, 6-3, and go up 5-3 in the third, Pliskova took control again, winning three games in a row to inch ahead 6-5 in the decider.

But the No.4-seeded Kerber had one last fight left in her, unleashing an ace to hold serve and push the match to a third set tie-break, and then winning three points in a row from 4-all in that breaker to close the No.6-seeded Pliskova out after two hours and 16 minutes on center court, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(4).

Pliskova had bigger numbers in the match, but Kerber was just too sharp - the Czech had 51 winners to 42 unforced errors (a +9 differential) while the German had 34 winners to 14 unforced errors (+20).

"Angie was playing great. I did everything I could so I'm not really disappointed," Pliskova said. "We all saw what she can do on grass - I felt like she was just everywhere, because she moves so well on grass, and it's always tough to play a lefty on grass. Her flat shots are tough to play against as well."

"Karolina is a great player," Kerber said. "She served unbelievably well in the important moments, and she was hitting the balls so close to the lines. I had no chance in the big moments in the first set.

"But I just kept fighting point by point, and it's just an unbelievable feeling to win today."

Pliskova wasn't just going for her first Premier-level title, she was also going for a spot in the Top 10 - if she had beaten Kerber, she would have made her Top 10 debut and bumped the German out.

But instead Kerber now has her third Premier-level title of the year, having already won back-to-back clay court titles at Charleston and Stuttgart. She's only the second player to win three titles at the Premier level or higher this year - Serena Williams has two Grand Slams and a Premier Mandatory.

It was a big boost for Kerber ahead of the big one, Wimbledon, where she's a former semifinalist.

"This gives me a lot of confidence," she said. "My goal coming to Birmingham was to get a lot of matches, and now I had my fifth of the week, so it couldn't be better preparation before Wimbledon. I'll just enjoy the day today, and we'll see what comes next, and we'll see what happens there."

And how will Kerber celebrate this victory? "I think we'll go for pizza tonight!" she beamed.