EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - World No.3 Karolina Pliskova clinched her third title of 2017 after edging past Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets at the Aegon International Eastbourne.
Twelve months after falling in the Eastbourne final last year to Dominika Cibulkova, Pliskova was able to go one step further and claim the biggest grass court title of her career, winning 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 22 minutes.
With the victory Pliskova becomes the first Czech to triumph at Eastbourne since Jana Novotna in 1998 – and that’s a good omen too, as Novotna went on to win the Eastbourne-Wimbledon double that year.
“In the beginning of this tournament, I just wanted to play some matches and have some hits on grass,” Pliskova said in her post-match press conference. “I didn't really expect this start of the grass court season, but it gave me a lot of confidence coming to London.
“But it's the same last year. I was also in final. Didn't get the trophy but I didn't do well in Wimbledon, so hopefully, I believe it can change with this trophy this year.”
A lone break in each set was all that separated the pair in the high-quality encounter. Pliskova’s backhand was firing early on the Czech opened up the court with it to move ahead 3-2. An impeccable service performance allowed her to hang on to the lead comfortably, and Wozniacki didn’t get a look at a break back point in the entire first set.
But the Dane stayed patient and brought up her first real chance to make a dent in the Pliskova serve later on in the sixth game of the second, bringing Pliskova to deuce seven times and creating four break points in the marathon 11-minute game. But Pliskova once again served her way out of trouble, sealing the game with a timely ace.
The Czech grabbed the decisive break a few games later, taking advantage of a slight dip in Wozniacki’s form to fire off another two aces and bring up match points, before taking the match – and the Eastbourne title – on the third time of asking.
“I think we were both serving pretty well both sets,” Pliskova said. “I was checking the statistics, and we both had pretty high percentage of the first serve. It was just about a few points.
“Still was a little bit shaky at the end, the last two points, but I made it. I'm happy.”
Pliskova’s victory denies Wozniacki from finally reaching her first title of 2017 – the Dane has been in four finals and lost two to Pliskova, including at the Qatar Total Open earlier in the season.
“For me, I really enjoy playing here the week before Wimbledon,” she said. “I have played well here. I feel at home. It's been great to get the feel, because especially on the grass, if you don't feel 100% comfortable, it can be pretty tricky.
“That's why I think I'm feeling good, and hopefully that will mean that I can play well at Wimbledon next week.”