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Angelique Kerber fulfils dream in New York


Angelique Kerber of Germany / Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA/AFP

Angelique Kerber of Germany / Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA/AFP

Angelique Kerber of Deutschland outlasted Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic to attain a dream she nursed as a young child. With her 6/3; 4/6; 6-3 victory, she added the second grand slam title in a spectacular year of her career. She became the second lady from her country to win the US Open, following Steffi Graff’s defeat of Monica Seles in 1996. Steffi and Boris Becker dominated the game in that era, inspiring the future world number one in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings.

Pliskova entered the finals with the best service record this year, as that weapon aided her in dismissing all opponents on her path, including the “twin towers” Venus and Serena Williams. In the final, the Czech lady had a taste of what Serena experienced in the semi-finals. The Queen of (tennis) aces made 53 out of 89 first serves.

Serving first in the opening set, Pliskova did not get in a first serve and was broken by Kerber, who also faced a break point in the second game but survived. She missed the first serve twice in the third game, but scored an ace to register on scoreboard.

Also, she had two break points in the fourth but lost them. It was the pattern for the match. She lost three game points and conceded the fifth game. Kerber held to lead 4-2 but Pliskova held her serve to reduce the tally. Serving to extend the lead, Kerber hit a double fault but recovered to take the game.

Serving to save the set, Pliskova again did not make a first serve and fell behind 15-30, leveled, then at 30-all, the first serve eluded her and she faced break point at which she attempted a drop shot that Kerber ran down for a winner to have the first set 6/3.

In the second set, Kerber held serve to take off 1-0 but her opponent leveled one–all.

In the third game, Kerber shot up 40-30 but was deuced on a powerful return to her feet on baseline and then faced the fourth break point that she saved and proceeded to clinch the game.

Pliskova leveled but lost another break opportunity and Kerber was ahead 3 – 2. Improved serving enabled Pliskova to level three-all and she won a classic volley lob to break Kerber in the seventh game.

Despite missing all but one first serve, Pliskova consolidated the break to lead 5-3. Kerber staved off a break point to take the ninth game. Serving for the set, Pliskova fell behind on a second serve but a good serve was followed by a put-away shot. She made a first serve at 15-30 to level and recorded an ace to win the game and set 6 -4. Kerber immediately went to the locker room.

The German returned to court and promptly took the first game on serve. Struggling with second serves in the second game, Pliskova leveled one-all and broke Kerber in the third game. She held serve to extend the lead 3-1.

Kerber reduced the tally, by taking her service game at love and then broke Pliskova to take the sixth game. When she hit a forehand winner to reach 40-30, Kerber yelled “come on” before taking the game for a lead in the set.

Her opponent was forced to deuce in the eighth game and missed an easy shot on first game opportunity, but she eventually took the game to level four games all.

Kerber took the first point in the ninth game and hung in tight on baseline through a long rally until she elicited a backhand error. She did not drop a point to the game for a 5-4 lead. Pliskova needed to win her serve to save the match but she was passed in a foray to the net on first point. A second delivery was promptly put away by Kerber. Pliskova missed an easy volley to face three match points, but following a good first serve, she hit a forehand over the line to concede game set and match. Kerber fell flat on her back for some seconds and got up raising her hands in jubilation.

After the handshake with Pliskova, she ran across the court and was lifted up to where her team and mother sat. She then returned to her seat and buried her face in tears. She had capped a special year of success with the Australian Open title, the finalist at Wimbledon, a silver medalist in Rio Olympics, a second grand slam title with her first U S Open victory and ascendancy to Number One ranking. She ended Serena’s record 186 weeks atop the pack.

Kerber said, “This is the best year of my career.”

Kerber does everything right-handed. As a toddler, however, she picked up a tennis racket with the left hand. She is ambidextrous. This explains the power of her lethal two-fisted backhand. The Chief Executive Officer of Chase Bank, (a lady) handed her the winner’s cheque for 3.5 million dollars. Thereafter, she received the trophy from the President of the United States Tennis Association, Katrina Adams, a former professional tennis player.

Indeed, America (specifically New York) is where dreams come true.

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