(Reuters) – Karolina Pliskova gave herself the perfect pre-Wimbledon tonic by lifting the Aegon International title on the grass at Eastbourne, defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-4 in impressive style in Saturday’s final.
The Czech world number three demonstrated once again just why, with her big serves and crushing groundstrokes, she could be the one to beat at Wimbledon over the next fortnight as she annexed her third title of the season.
Denmark’s Wozniacki, the world number six who had hoped to regain the title she last won in 2009, held on in game fashion but succumbed to a break of serve in each set and, despite a second set push, could not dent Pliskova’s formidable delivery.
“This feels better,” said the 25-year-old Pliskova on court afterwards, comparing her feeling to the defeat in the same final last year.
Reminded that Jana Novotna had been the last Czech woman to win at Eastbourne before going to triumph at Wimbledon in the same year, she added: “My service is definitely my biggest weapon and if it’s working it causes the other player a lot of problems.
“I’m going to go step-by-step and hopefully I can go far at Wimbledon.”
Pliskova took command with a break for 3-2 in the first set and dropped only five points on serve as she took the stanza in 34 minutes.
In the middle of the second set, Pliskova finally faced an examination on serve, having to save four break points in one game and two in the next, but saved them all with a combination of fine serving and Wozniacki’s profligacy.
Pliskova sent down 10 aces as she wrapped up victory in one hour 22 minutes and it is hard to imagine she will not improve on her best previous Wimbledon performances, second round dates in each of the last four years.
For Wozniacki, another live contender in an open Wimbledon, it was a disappointing fourth defeat in four finals this season but she was still able to smile: “I would have loved to have won today but maybe fifth time is the charm as they say.
“I thought I played really well, but Karolina played better than me, definitely with the serves. I had trouble getting them back.”
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar)