WTA Brisbane: Karolina Pliskova seals title with three-set comeback win over Lesia Tsurenko
Pliskova holds her championship trophy/Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

WTA Brisbane: Karolina Pliskova seals title with three-set comeback win over Lesia Tsurenko

One game from defeat, the Czech found her game just in time to lift the trophy in Brisbane for the second time.

John Lupo

Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova rallied from near defeat to claim the Brisbane International title with a sensational 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Lesia Tsurenko.

The Czech was two points from defeat, trailing 6-4, 5-3 before authoring a memorable recovery, winning 10 of the final games to take home her 12th career WTA Tour title.

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Tsurenko takes the first set with some impressive play

The underdog Tsurenko came out firing early and held two break points in the opening game of the match. After Pliskova saved the first, she dumped a backhand into the net to hand the Ukranian the initiative.

Tsurenko was continuing to maintain her high level of play, but in the sixth game, she misfired on a backhand of her own on break point to give away her advantage. Undaunted, a sublime volley set up three break points in the very next game.

She only needed one as she traded blows with the world number eight off of the ground, eventually drawing an error from the Czech, who was unable to keep pace with the Tsurenko backhand. 

An ace sealed the next service game for the world number 27 and she was ahead 5-3. After a half-chance on the Pliskova serve came and went, Tsurenko stepped up and served out the set to 15, taking a surprise lead.

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Pliskova forces third set after being two points from defeat

The Ukranian continued to play exceptionally well and she was quickly on the front foot to open the second set, claiming her third break of the match. Her serving was still on point as she held to love for a 2-0 lead.

Pliskova finally made the much-anticipated breakthrough on the Tsurenko serve as she converted her third break chance of the fourth game when the Ukranian pushed a volley well long to level the set at 2-2.

The Czech's backhand let her down once again as she was off target on that wing after an extended rally, giving Tsurenko the edge once again. The world number 27 looked to have one hand on the trophy after saving a break point to hold for a 5-3 lead.

Pushed to deuce, Pliskova got out of trouble with some big serving, the pressure on Tsurenko and the Ukranian cracked, broken to love on an exquisite high backhand volley from the former world number one.

The rest of the set was one-way traffic as the errors started to flow from Tsurenko's racket. Down facing three set points, the Ukranian saved the first with an ace, but was long on a forehand to gift-wrap Pliskova a fourth straight game.

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Czech runs away with decider after Tsurenko sprains ankle

The pivotal moment of the third set came early on as Tsurenko rolled her ankle in the second game and required a medical timeout in the middle of the game. Facing a break point after receiving treatment, she netted a forehand to give Pliskova a 2-0 lead.

Visibly limping by the fourth game, the Ukranian gutted out a hold to make the score 3-1 and to her credit, she fought to retrieve the deficit, getting to deuce on the Pliskova serve, but the world number eight ultimately held to move herself one game from the title.

Holding a 15-40 lead on Tsurenko's serve, Pliskova had two championship points, but only the first as the Ukrainian swatted a final forehand into the net, the Czech becoming the third player in tournament history with multiple Brisbane trophies.

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Post-match comments from both players

"I think this was a very important match. I had similar one in the first round which I was losing set and break, and of course, when you're able to turn these matches around, it gives you some different and extra confidence", Pliskova said after the match.

"I think I just dug deep today and that's important. I think she played great. It's not much what she did wrong - only a little bit in the end of the second set mistakes, but I think I improved my game, too, so it was on both sides a little bit. She got down. I got better".

She explained her slow start by stating "my feeling was I was playing too slow the set and a half. I just couldn't get my rhythm into it and I was just not feeling great. She was so good and so solid, you know, making a lot of pressure from her backhand on my side.

"After that, I just tried to step in a little bit more just to go more through her forehand, just to be more aggressive, even though I was not going just for winners because I didn't feel like it's my time to go for winners. 

"In the third set, I just felt somehow in the beginning super confident because I did so many points in a row, and I didn't really want to slow down. I just wanted to make her work for the points".

Despite the loss, her first in five career tour finals, Tsurenko will move to a career-high 24th in the latest rankings and she said "I think we had the great fight until 5-4 and then suddenly, I don't know, maybe she raised her level so much that I was not ready for that.

"This is just the first Premier final for me so hopefully next one will be more successful. I almost did it. I will have to work hard, and for sure I have to work a little bit more on my serve and on my attacking because I feel I can get a lot of advantage with that, and of course, on my mental part of my game, because next time when I will be in a situation like this, I would like to win".