Kerber’s Handles Halep In Cincinnati, Faces Pliskova In Cincy Final With No. 1 Ranking At Stake
by Staff | August 20th, 2016, 11:36 pm
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The moment has come for Angelique Kerber. A year ago the German ranked No. 11 in the world and was hopeful of just making it to the Singapore Finals. A year later she’s two sets from the No. 1 ranking after reaching her second final at the Cincinnati Masters.

Serena Williams has held the top spot 183 weeks since regaining it on February 18, 2013 but Serena’s reign will end tomorrow if Kerber beats Karolina Pliskova in the W&S final. And Kerber would become the oldest player to reach No. 1 for a first time.

“I think of course I’m playing now some of my best tennis,” Kerber said. “It’s one of the best years in my career. I had a lot of up and downs in the last few years and I had a lot of experience from which I learned.

“I think now I’m showing that I’m really one of the best tennis players.

“It’s still one match away, but it’s still a long match. I will not thinking about this yet. It’s a new opponent, a new day, and after that we will see what happened yeah, it’s not over yet. Still one match to go.”

Today in the semifinals, the 28-year-old lefty hung on to beat rival Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4. The slugged it out to 4-3 in the first but after a 35-minute rain delay Kerber had the momentum going up 6-3, 4-0 back off a slew of errors.

Halep, who hit 50 unforced errors in the match, regained some form, especially off her backhand, to make it a match but Kerber was able to close even though she broke two strings on match point.

“My strings have never broken!” Kerber said. “And it just broke during the match, and on match point. I was just hoping the ball would go in because I don’t know what to do with the racquet!”

The loss snapped Halep’s 13-match win streak and ended her reign over Kerber on the hard courts, now leading 4-1 on the surface.

In the final will be Karolina Pliskova. The big-serving Czech blew past Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-3 in about an hour in very windy conditions.

“It wasn’t easy today, because the wind was really tricky and it was tough conditions today,” Pliskova told the crowd.

Pliskova has five career titles but has never won a Premier WTA tournament. And she’s down 4-2 to Kerber. But she arrives in the finals after back-to-back Top 10 wins.

“I know I beat [Muguruza] in the last two matches, so I knew it’s going to be tough for her to beat me if I play well or if I play solid,” Pliskova said. “I was not thinking about that she’s a French Open champion. This you cannot take on the court.

“I always believe,” said Pliskova. “There is, I would say, 99% of the players, I can beat all of them if I play good tennis.”

And the Czech would love to derail Kerber’s No. 1 hopes.

“I don’t know if she would be a little bit in stress or something, but I would love to have her as a No. 1 after few years. But I’ll do anything for her to not getting there,” Pliskova said.

The women’s final starts at 2pm ET.

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