Pliskova wins in Brisbane to fire Australian Open warning
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Brisbane (Australia) (AFP)
Karolina Pliskova won her second consecutive Brisbane International title when she downed Madison Keys in a three-set final at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Sunday.
The Czech world number two won 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours, seven minutes on Pat Rafter Arena.
Pliskova's third Brisbane title in four years and her 16th on the WTA tour stamps her as one of the favourites for the upcoming Australian Open.
The former world number one is yet to win a Grand Slam singles title, but she reached the semi-finals in Melbourne last year, falling in three sets to eventual champion Naomi Osaka.
Pliskova beat Osaka in Brisbane in a marathon three hour semi-final on Saturday night and the manner in which she backed up to defeat Keys in another gruelling clash on Sunday shows she has form and fitness heading into the year's first Grand Slam.
Keys, who reached the US Open final in 2016 on her way to a career-high world ranking of seven, had a resurgent 2019, winning titles in Charleston and Cincinnati.
She will also fancy her chances at Melbourne Park after coming from a set down to beat two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals and then pushing Pliskova all the way in the decider.
In a high quality and evenly matched final, Pliskova seized the early advantage when she broke Keys at 4-4 then held serve to take the first set in 39 minutes.
However, in the second set Pliskova's big serve went off the boil while Keys upped her level.
Although Pliskova broke Keys at 2-2, the American broke straight back then took advantage of another poor Pliskova service game at 4-5 to break again and level the match at one set apiece.
Pliskova then broke Keys in the seventh game, but faltered under the pressure of serving for the match at 5-4.
But the American couldn't take advantage and Pliskova broke straight back, this time making no mistake, holding to love and taking the title when a Keys backhand return sailed wide.
© 2020 AFP