World No. 17 Karolina Pliskova powered to the Aegon Open Nottingham title, producing a hard-hitting performance to overcome America’s Alison Riske 7-6 (8) 7-5 in Sunday’s final.
The top seed saved six set points en route to taking the opener in a tie-break, before breaking Riske’s serve in the final game of the second to seal victory in one hour and 55 minutes.
Victory for the Czech star saw her collect her first ever grass-court title, and in doing so ends Riske’s impressive nine match winning streak on the surface, having won the Aegon Trophy Eastbourne a week earlier.
“I’m just really happy that I made it and really happy that I have the trophy now,” 24-year-old Pliskova said.
“She played some good shots and in the end I was just happy that I made it.”
America’s Riske more than matched the Czech – ranked 72 places higher in the world – throughout the contest, although Pliskova’s big serve got her out of trouble on numerous occasions.
“I felt like I gave myself a lot of opportunities,” Riske said. “I had a lot of different chances and whether it be that she served an ace or she played a really good point, the opportunities were gone.
“I gave myself as many chances as I could and credit to her for really stepping it up.”
The two exchanged breaks in sharing the opening eight games of the first set, but it was when Riske edged ahead 5-4 that the American had set points to take the opener. However, Pliskova fired down two unreturnable serves and a brilliant forehand pass to hold for 5-5.
Riske then had three more opportunities to clinch the set in the tie-breaker, but more brutal hitting from Pliskova enabled the Czech to take control by twice bringing up set point herself, the second of which she converted to clinch the set in 58 minutes.
Going a set down did not deter Riske as she powered to a 4-2 lead in the second set, and then had a set point when serving for it at 5-4, although went long with a forehand, leading to Pliskova star breaking back to level at 5-5.
The World No. 17 then held to lead 6-5 and fired a wonderful passing shot on her first match point to clinch the title.
In the doubles, Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai beat the fourth seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Yang Zhaoxuan in a championship tie-breaker 7-5 2-6 [10-7] to secure the title.
You can relive all the action from the Aegon Open Nottingham as it happened, including post-match reaction by visiting the the tournament blog or searching for ‘Aegon Open Nottingham’.
Tickets to the Aegon Open Nottingham ATP event, which starts Saturday, 18 June are available for as little as £5. Please visit the tournament website for more information.
Earlier this year the LTA announced exciting changes to the three week 2017 grass court tournament calendar. Nottingham will host a combined men’s and women’s tour-level tournament in the same week for the first time in 44 years. The pre-existing ATP 250 tournament will move back to Eastbourne, merging with the WTA Premier Aegon International to form a combined event (as it was from 2009-2014) featuring the following format: a 28-player main draw men’s event and 48-player main draw for the women staged across nine days. Other changes include a doubling of prize money at the Aegon Trophy Series (ATP Challenger & ITF Women’s Pro Circuit) creating the highest value circuit at this level in world tennis.