At just the age of 26, Karolina Pliskova reached her 20th career final having won the 10th WTA title in her career, defeating the resurgent Coco Vandeweghe in a high-quality final at the 2018 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix for her biggest-ever clay court title. Pliskova, serving 10 aces, rose to the top of the ace leaderboard on the WTA tour, taking over the top position from Julia Goerges.
It has been a particularly impressive week for Pliskova, whose improved footwork reflected in her results. Furthermore, she defeated clay-court specialist Kiki Bertens within less than an hour, before outlasting world number five Jelena Ostapenko in three marathon sets en route to the title.
On the other hand, it is a career-breakthrough week for Vandeweghe, who proved her potential on clay with this mouthwatering run. Having beaten three top-10 players in the week, with all of the wins concluded in straight sets, Vandeweghe thrashed compatriot and world number nine Sloane Stephens losing only one solitary game before defeating world number one Simona Halep 6-4, 6-1 and outclassing Caroline Garcia 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals.
Pliskova recovers from an early deficit to take the first set
It was a flat game from Pliskova to begin the match with, as her inability to find her first serves proved crucial since Vandeweghe exploited those vulnerable second serves and drew first blood in the opening game, making the first breakthrough. With some solid hitting and consistent play, it was one-way traffic for the American as Pliskova struggled to deal with the power and soon found herself down 0-2 after just minutes of play.
Getting onto the scoreboard after what seemed like an eternity, Pliskova edged through a tricky service game before putting in a terrific return game, breaking to love as she was efficient on the return, leveling the scores at 2-2. A series of service holds followed, which should not have come as a surprise considering both players are huge servers.
Both games at 5-5 and 5-6 went to deuce but the servers were able to overcome the pressure and send the first set into a tiebreak. Vandeweghe opened the tiebreak with a mini-break though Pliskova impressively leveled the scores with a stunning drop shot winner which was listed as the “Shot of the Day” by the WTA. From there, it was all Pliskova’s business as she rattled off seven consecutive points to take the first set 7-6 after hitting an outstanding backhand down-the-line winner.
Pliskova overcomes late wobble, defeats Vandeweghe for biggest clay title
Losing the confidence in her play, Vandeweghe had a wobbly start to the second set as she conceded a break point in the first game. Nonetheless, she was able to survive the tricky game although Pliskova remained flawless on serve. The second set was a completely different story as compared to the first, with both players having their chances on the return.
However, this time it was the world number six who broke first, as errors leaked out from every part of Vandeweghe’s game. The American had the golden opportunity to break straight back, but she was wasteful on her chances as she panicked at the sight of pressure, allowing Pliskova to consolidate for a commanding 4-2 lead. Another close marathon game followed, and the Czech clinched her third consecutive game which put her in the driving seat to clinch the title.
Serving for the encounter, Pliskova was unable to go against the forehand fortress of Vandeweghe, who grabbed back one of the breaks back which helped her to lessen the deficit. The momentum had shifted towards the American, who was just two points away from returning level. Pliskova faced the huge risk of losing her serve once more, but Vandeweghe astonishingly sent an easy backhand volley long, allowing the Czech to claim her 10th career title alongside a Porsche 718.