It was a fight until the very end, as both Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys pushed each other to up their levels in the Brisbane final. The world No. 2 who was running out of gas, due to a long week of intense play, but managed to come out on top with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over the American.
Pliskova, who was looking to get an early read on Keys' serve, didn't get the early break she was hoping for. Instead, the hard-hitters traded blows, both waiting for the other to crack.
In the ninth game, Keys would rupture first, giving Pliskova a 5-4 lead, and the Czech wasted no time in finishing off the tight first set.
But with heavy tape and fatigue building, Pliskova's new coach Olga Savchuk gave his charge a dose of reality: "You look flat, I need to see more energy from you," she said during the set break.
Dropping the opening game of the second set; Pliskova's energy continued to dwindle, but she was still able to capture another important break to take a 3-2 lead. Hoping that Pliskova's service-level would drop, Keys got exactly what she was looking for and got things back on serve right away.
Keys would continue to step into the court, create stronger margins and take advantage of Pliskova's low energy to rebound and capture the second set. In a match that could have gone either way, it was a battle that came down to who would stay consistent.
Pliskova, who fought her way through a tough three-setter the night before against Naomi Osaka, was fatigued due to good reason. However, she would dig deep to do something she's never done before, which is defend a title.