Karolina Pliskova won her third WTA title of the year at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne on Saturday, outdoing defending Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in the final, 6-1, 6-4.
Pliskova was all over Kerber from the start, storming out to a 4-0 lead and, after getting broken for 4-1, winning another four games in a row to build a 6-1, 2-0 lead. From there there were eight straight holds until Pliskova had the victory, finishing it off with a crosscourt backhand winner on match point.
She hit more than twice as many winners as unforced errors in the match, 33 to 16.
“All week I was playing quite perfectly, not dropping a set, but not all of my matches were as easy as the scores showed, especially today,” Pliskova said during the trophy presentation. “Angie is one of the best grass court players on the tour and today was really tough, especially in the second set.”
Pliskova has now won three WTA titles this year and all at Premier events in Brisbane, Rome and Eastbourne. She’s now tied for the most WTA titles this year with new World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.
This was also her second time winning Eastbourne, having won here in 2017 as well.
“I always feel good in Eastbourne and I’m hoping to play well at Wimbledon too,” Pliskova said. “I’ve never really played well at Wimbledon before. I remember one year I won here and then lost in the second round of Wimbledon. But who knows. I’ll just try to enjoy myself there and play my best.”
Pliskova’s best result at Wimbledon is reaching the fourth round last year, falling to Kiki Bertens.
For Kerber, reaching the Eastbourne final was a revival of sorts - she hasn’t won a title since winning Wimbledon last year. But reaching the final here could be the boost she needs right before SW19.
The German actually had more winners than unforced errors in the final, too - 22 to 18.
“I had a great week,” she said. “I really enjoy my stay here every single year. I love to play here. For me it’s always the best preparation before going to Wimbledon. Karolina was just too good today.”
As the defending ladies’ champion, Kerber will step out onto Centre Court on Tuesday afternoon for her first round match against fellow German Tatjana Maria. She was asked about that on Saturday.
“Of course going back as the defending champion and walking onto Centre Court again will be a really special moment. I’ll be playing with a lot of memories and emotions from last year. I’m feeling good and playing well at the moment, so hopefully I can continue my play there from last year.”
The first two times she defended a Major she lost earlier than expected, falling fourth round at the 2017 Australian Open to CoCo Vandeweghe and first round at the 2017 US Open to Naomi Osaka.