ESPN network execs in the United States must’ve thrown their cell phones against the wall when Karolina Pliskova beat Serena Williams. Now, they have the tough sell of a US Open Finals match between the little known Pliskova, from the Czech Republic, against Angelique Kerber, from Germany, who just (sort of) became a household name earlier this year, going against numerous College Football games in the 4:00 pm EDT time-slot.
This isn’t exactly what ESPN/ABC bargained for when they spent millions of dollars for the television rights to show the U.S. Open. Tennis diehards like ourselves don’t really think of it like this, but most of the world, outside of our small circle, really have no clue who these two ladies are. Name-factor alone doesn’t make a great tennis match, and I truly believe we’ll get to witness one this Saturday in the WTA Final of the U.S. Open.
These two ladies have met a total of 7 times, with Kerber owning the slight 4-3 H2H advantage. Their most recent meeting, however, ended up with Pliskova dominating the new world #1, 6-3, 6-1, in straights, in Cincinnati, this past August. “I remember the Cincinnati final,” said Kerber, “I was actually really tired because I came from Rio and I had a lot of tough matches there. Here, I have one day off (on Friday), so I can really prepare for the final. I know how she is playing. I know she has a big serve.
“I will go out there trying … to take the revenge, of course.”
Both ladies have done tremendously well en route to the WTA Final this Saturday afternoon. Pliskova eliminated Kenin, Gonzalez, Pavlyuchenkova, Venus Williams, Ana Konjuh, and Serena Williams. While Kerber, arguably playing the best tennis of her career, defeated Hercog, Lucic-Baroni, CiCi Bellis, Petra Kvitova, (2015 US Open Finalist) Roberta Vinci, and Caroline Wozniacki.
It should be a tight match between Kerber and Pliskova. Kerber is one of the best defenders in tennis right now. She’s a seasoned veteran, who’s used to this big stage, playing in her 3rd grand slam final this year, and with her new number 1 world ranking, she has to believe this tournament is her’s to lose. Pliskova, on the other hand, has a monster serve, heavy groundstrokes, some serious momentum, and nerves of steel (as we witnessed in her match against Serena). Not to mention, she’s beaten six top-10 players already this year, Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams. Pliskova has won 11 straight matches, including that Cincinnati final against Kerber, and will be shooting to round out that dozen, and capture her 2nd straight WTA title. In what should be a tight 3-set match, I believe the value is in the underdog.
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