Next generation talent wins Brisbane, now for Melbourne
THIRD seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova last night claimed the Brisbane International women’s title and emerged as a serious threat for the Australian Open.
The world No.6 routed unseeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-0 6-3 in just over an hour on Pat Rafter Arena.
“She (Pliskova) was amazing and I’m sure she will win a grand slam (title) very soon,’’ Cornet, an accomplished player who upset Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2014 and two other times that year, said.
“She’s pretty unique. Her serve is so deep and powerful and so hard to read.
“I could always be able to return Serena’s serve. Her (Pliskova’s) serve’s impossible to read — it’s such a weapon, it’s a nightmare.’’
Pliskova became the second Czech — and first since Petra Kvitova in 2011 — to lift the Evonne Goolagong Cawley Cup as women’s champion.
Cornet had no answer for Pliskova’s firepower from the outset – the first set lasted just 18 minutes.
In the end, Pliskova hit 30 winners to Cornet’s 10 and sent down seven aces to her opponent’s one.
The 24-year-old Pliskova has picked up where she left off 2016.
Last year she had a breakout season, making her maiden grand slam final at the US Open and featuring in the Czech Republic’s third straight Fed Cup triumph.
She will reach a career high world No.5 ahead of the Australian Open thanks to the Brisbane win, which also earned her a $262,396 cheque.
Pliskova dropped only one set in the entire tournament, in her quarterfinal win over eighth seed Roberta Vinci of Italy.
She levelled her head-to-head record against world No.41 Cornet at 1-1. Cornet, 26, was the lowest ranked female finalist in Brisbane’s history.
The former world No.11 cruised into the tournament decider after French Open champion Garbine Muguruza pulled out of their semifinal with a thigh complaint.
After being handed the trophy by Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Pliskova thanked her new coach David Kotyza, who had long been associated with Petra Kvitova.
“I would like to congratulate Alize. You didn’t win tonight but you had a great week and I wish you the very best for the year,” Pliskova said.
“It’s my third time here and I’m enjoying myself more each year. And thank you to my box — David and (trainer) Martin (Nosko). It’s our first week together so not a bad week, hey guys.”
Czech Karolina Pliskova hammers a forehand at Alice Cornet last night and, inset, lifts the Evonne Goolagong Cawley Cup. Pictures: AAP