World number three Karolina Pliskova fended off the tough challenge from the world number 18 Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the Qatar Total Open on a long-awaited day without rain interrupting play, with the sun even making a rare appearance. Coming off from Fed Cup duty, it was a surprise that Pliskova managed to even reach the final, let alone win the trophy. Nevertheless, this win extended her win-loss record to 15-1 in 2017, becoming one of the most consistent performers on the tour. For Wozniacki, she rises back to the world’s top 15 in the rankings as she continues to make a push back to the top 10, making this unexpected and surprising run to the final having defeated Agnieszka Radwanska in the process.
Wozniacki suffers from slow start
Wozniacki had a very slow start to the match as Pliskova came out to the match firing, with her groundstrokes looking very solid from the first point onwards. Despite getting two points back from 0-40 down in the opening game, the Dane was still unable to prevent Pliskova from breaking serve as she fell to an early deficit, with Pliskova getting the early break. With her serve looking on point early on, the Czech came from 15-30 down in her opening service game to hold serve in the tense game to consolidate the break of serve and extend her lead to two games.
Pliskova seems like she is not going to miss anything as she strolled to yet another service break despite the tough resistance from Wozniacki, looking to claim the first set in a hurry. Similar to the first break of serve, Pliskova managed to consolidate the service break with a comfortable hold of service, affirming her lead in the scoreboard and slowly vaporize Wozniacki’s chances of winning the first set.
An on-court coaching at 0-3 certainly helped Wozniacki in some way as she managed to hold onto her service game for this time, finally getting herself onto the scoreboard at 0-4. A comeback seems to be on the cards as Pliskova looked a little loose in her next service game, throwing away a 30-15 lead to allow the Dane to get back one of the breaks and lessen the deficit.
After holding her serve once more to be just one game away from leveling the scores, Pliskova stopped the rout with a comfortable service hold, placing her in an advantageous position to close out the first set as she was just one game away from winning it. Unable to deal with the Czech’s strong returns, Wozniacki’s service game crumbled once again to gift the first set to Pliskova after just 40 minutes of play.
A tight second set
Wozniacki looked to make the first breakthrough in the second set as she earned a 15-30 lead in Pliskova’s opening service game in the second set. However, Pliskova managed to find her strong serves just at the right time to hold onto her service game and prevent herself from falling behind early in the set. Wozniacki looked to have managed to solve her problems on the service as she got the first service hold to love in the match, remaining on serve and looking very solid.
After an exchange of comfortable service holds which kept the second set closer than ever, Wozniacki finally earned the first break point opportunity of the set to have the golden opportunity to take the lead as Pliskova started to dish out unforced errors. Nevertheless, Pliskova’s strongest and most dangerous weapon came to her rescue as she served an unreturnable serve to save the break point, eventually holding serve for a 3-2 lead and survive a major scare.
A third straight service hold to love for Wozniacki followed as Pliskova failed to find answers to returning the Dane’s serve, with the former world number one looking to force the match into a deciding set. Soon, Wozniacki found herself serving to stay in the match at 4-5 as she failed to break down Pliskova’s service in the second set.
With added pressure and Pliskova stepping up her game with motivation to close out the match in straight sets, Wozniacki’s service crumbled at the most critical moment as she was broken for the first time in the second set despite her serve being consistent throughout the set, gifting Pliskova the win and the trophy after just 1 hour and 20 minutes.