Angelique Kerber simply had no riposte to the brilliance of Karolina Pliskova, who heads into Wimbledon as a champion in Eastbourne.
Karolina Pliskova laid down a huge marker ahead of Wimbledon with a dominant 6-1 6-4 victory over Angelique Kerber in Saturday’s Nature Valley International final.
The world number three, who did not drop a set all week, was flawless against the defending Wimbledon champion en route to becoming a two-time winner in Eastbourne.
It was Pliskova’s third final at this event in the past four seasons and she was simply a class above Kerber, who had herself been in fine form at the grass-court event.
The 27-year-old, now boasting three titles in 2019, cuts the gap in her head-to-head with Kerber to 7-5 and will head into her Wimbledon opener against Zhu Lin brimming with confidence.
Asked if her triumph boosts her chances at the third slam of the year, Pliskova told the post-match presentation: “Well, I won the title here one year then lost in [the] second round [at Wimbledon], so I don’t know what will happen.
“I play Monday, it’s not ideal, but I’ll enjoy this and try to do my best.
“All week I didn’t drop a set, not all matches were as easy as the score suggests. Angie played a great week and good luck to her for Wimbledon.”
“I was fighting a lot and I think Angie is one of the best grass court players.”@KaPliskova credits her formidable opponent after a triumphant #NatureValleyInternational performance. pic.twitter.com/V6aUD7mGUg
— WTA (@WTA) June 29, 2019
Kerber finally got on the board to break back but surrendered serve for a third time after Pliskova won a thrilling point with a fine winner at the net.
The Czech duly served out the opener and there was no let up at the start of the second as Pliskova broke at the first time of asking when Kerber found the left tramline.
Kerber showed some fine resolve to save break points in game seven, but the nerveless Pliskova comfortably saw out her final service games to secure a huge win.
Despite the defeat, Kerber is feeling in good shape ahead of the defence of her Wimbledon title.
“[There’s going to be] a lot of emotion,” she said. “Of course, going back as defending champion it will be a special moment playing on Centre Court again, a lot of memories from last year.
“I’m playing good, hopefully I can continue my play from last year.”