Monday March 4, 2013
Pliskova downs Mattek-Sands to clinch first WTA Tour title
By ASHREENA PILLAI
KUALA LUMPUR: Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Repulbic came back from a set down to beat American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 to bag her first WTA Tour title at the BMW Malaysian Open at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC) yesterday.
In the opening set, Mattek-Sands came out with all guns blazing as she raced to a 3-1 lead before easily winning 6-1.
But Pliskova was all business in the second set as her big serve came into play to level the scores.
In the decider, things were squared at 1-1 before play was suspended for 40 minutes due to rain. The break did nothing to halt Pliskova’s form as the world No. 127 wrapped up the set 6-3 to win the match.
It was sweet revenge for Pliskova who lost to Mattek-Sands 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in the first round of the qualifying rounds at the Generali Ladies Linz tournament in Austria last year.
“I was a bit nervous in the beginning but in the second set I improved a lot. I served much better. Bethanie played really well in the opening set. Her returns were really good and I didn’t know what to do,” said Pliskova, who took home US$40,000.
“After the first set loss, I tried to focus on my game. My mom told me to keep fighting and I did. I’m glad it turned out well in the end,” added the 21-year-old Pliskova, who had nine aces in the final.
Mattek-Sands was not disheartened by the loss.
“Karolina played very well today. She deserved it. She started serving well and I couldn’t break her in the second set,” said Mattek-Sands who took home US$20,000.
“I’m very happy with the result. Obviously getting to the final and getting some wins under my belt is very good. I’m off to the next tournament. That’s the great thing about tennis. There is always another week,” added the world No. 197, who is heading to Indian Wells, the United States, next week.
In the doubles final, second seeds Shuko Aoyama-Chang Kai-chen edged top seeds Janette Husarova-Zhang Shuai 6-7 (4-6), 7-6 (7-4), 14-12.
It was 22-year-old Kai Chen’s second consecutive doubles title in the tournament. Last year, Kai-chen partnered compatriot Chang Chia-Jung to beat Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Rika Fujiwara of Japan 7-5, 6-4 for the title.
“I’m very happy to win again. Hopefully, I can come back again next year. I enjoy playing here in Malaysia. The tournament, the food, the environment, everything is great. But it’s just so hot ...” she laughed.
Aoyama-Kai-chen took home US$11,500 while Husarova-Zhang Shuai collected US$6,000.
Women’s singles: Karolina Pliskova (Cze) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (US) 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Women’s doubles: Shuko Aoyama-Chang Kai-chen (Jpn-Tpe) bt Janette Husarova-Zhang Shuai (Svk-Chn) 6-7 (4-6), 7-6 (7-4), 14-12.