Karolina Pliskova has won her second Brisbane International title, overrunning Lesia Tsurenko 4-6 7-5 6-2 after being just two points from defeat.
A courtside pump-up from Australian coach Rennae Stubbs revived Pliskova, who won 13 straight points as Tsurenko went from serving for the championship to trailing in the decider in the blink of an eye.
A rolled ankle in the second game of the deciding set didn’t help the unseeded Ukrainian, who was left to ponder what went wrong.
Stubbs’ intervention was perfectly timed, with the former doubles champion-turned commentator telling the Czech world No.8 exactly what she needed to hear.
— WTA (@WTA) January 6, 2019
“It’s not over … you know this,” she told her. “You are hitting, not reacting. Hit and go … I don’t care if you lose this match right now, I want to see you do the right thing.
“You know how hard this is going to be for her to close out. She’s going to be nervous. Hit it through the middle and then go.”
Pliskova then hung on to her serve at 3-5 and the watched as Tsurenko made three unforced errors while serving for the match.
An athletic backhand smash winner brought them level on terms and Pliskova didn’t stop there, racing to a 3-0 lead in the deciding set to dash Tsurenko’s hopes of a breakthrough top-level title.
The Czech fifth seed enjoyed the victory alongside Stubbs, who has been in her camp since last August providing a tactical and emotional advantage that Pliskova has praised all week.
As @KaPliskova accepts the Evonne Goolagong Cawley Trophy, she gets the laughs, too: "This (microphone) is so low."
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 6, 2019
“Brisbane is my favourite tournament … I have great memories here and always like to start the year here,” Pliskova said.
“Thanks to my team; I would not be here without them … half of the trophy, it’s yours.”
Tsurenko held sway in the first hour of the contest on Pat Rafter Arena, skipping clear in both sets after the 2017 champion had worked her way back from an early break down.
The Ukranian world No. 27 had not lost a set in reaching her first top-level final and handled the nerves well when ousting favourite Naomi Osaka in the semifinals.
Happy New Year!
Your Week 1 @WTA Champions:
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 6, 2019
But it quickly went pear-shaped in the decider, with Tsurenko left asking her own coach what had gone wrong.
“Congratulations to Karolina, it was an amazing final,” Tsurenko said. “You raised your level so much, I’m a fan of your tennis.”
Pliskova improved her record in Brisbane to 13-2 and joined Victoria Azarenka (2009, 2016) and Serena Williams (2013-14) as the third woman to win the tournament twice.
12 December 2017
Apart from finishing the year as world No.1, winning a Grand Slam is the hardest thing to ... More
15 September 2016
The greatest champions, goes the old adage, are those who leave their sport better than th... More
18 December 2017
Let's say Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are both in the prime of their careers, and the... More