WTA Eastbourne: Angelique Kerber battles past Kristyna Pliskova in nervy encounter

The world number one and 2016 Wimbledon finalist returned to grass successfully, proving too strong for the potentially dangerous Pliskova.

WTA Eastbourne: Angelique Kerber battles past Kristyna Pliskova in nervy encounter
Angelique Kerber battled into the third round at the Aegon International today (Getty/Mike Hewitt)
Angelique Kerber
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Kristyna Pliskova

Angelique Kerber won her first grass court match of 2017 on Wednesday as battled past Kristyna Pliskova 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the second round of the Aegon International.

The German, twice a finalist in Eastbourne, has struggled with form all year and was occasionally very nervy on court today, though proved just too strong in the end for her Czech opponent, who played well in patches but was not consistent enough to cause the upset.

Kerber overall put in a solid performance and has gone a step closer to defending her number one ranking, which is under threat from Simona Halep this week.

Strong Pliskova takes advantage of Kerber’s nervy play

Both women were impressive to begin with in the opening set, though some nervous tennis by the world number one at the end helped Pliskova massively as she took the opening set.

Kristyna Pliskova serves during her loss to Angelique Kerber at Eastbourne today (Getty/Mike Hewitt)
Kristyna Pliskova serves during her loss to Angelique Kerber at Eastbourne today (Getty/Mike Hewitt)

It was a very strong start for both Kerber and Pliskova, with both women holding their opening service game. The world number one looked slightly nervy at one point, losing a 40-0 lead on her second service game, though two great winners saw her hold onto her serve and she was solid on serve once again in her following service game, though Pliskova was able to match her on every occasion, with match at 4-4 after just 24 minutes.

There had been no break points through the opening eight games, though that change with the world number one dropping her level slightly. Kerber looked a tad nervy with her ball striking, and Pliskova took advantage by taking the first of two potential break points. She herself was a little nervy serving out the set, hitting two double faults, though remained solid enough to take the first set 6-4.

Kerber raises her level to even things up

It had been a rather disappointing end to the first set for Kerber, though the world number rebounded well to take the match to a third and deciding set.

Pliskova piled on the pressure in the German’s opening game of the set, but the German held firm to not fall a break behind, and after both women held once more, Kerber made her first significant move of the match. The German began hitting the ball with more authority, just as she had done all last year and in the early stages of this encounter, and she pressured the Czech into two forehand unforced errors on her way to breaking for a 3-1 lead.

Angelique Kerber in action during her first grass court win of the season (Getty/Mike Hewitt)
Angelique Kerber in action during her first grass court win of the season (Getty/Mike Hewitt)

The German was now looking very comfortable once again, in contrast to Pliskova whose serve and forehand was beginning to falter massively. Kerber won eight points in a row to give herself a double break lead, and the world number one did not falter, taking the set 6-1 and sending the match to a decider.

Kerber holds her nerve to take tense decider

Both women were relatively nervous in the final set, and it was Pliskova who crumbled as Kerber edged the deciding set.

After a poor ending to the first set for Pliskova, the Czech was able to hold to start the decider, though Kerber herself held comfortably to put the pressure straight back on, and she repeatedly struck the ball beautifully to go a break up in the decider. However, the German played probably her worst game of the match to immediately hand the break back, and Pliskova showed a little more urgency to once again take the lead in the decider.

The two were clearly nervous, though both were able to keep hold of their serve, with Kerber hitting two big serves at 30-30 when serving to stay in the match. It was here, however, that Pliskova crumbled, hitting four errors to hand the world number one the advantage, which she took advantage of, finally prevailing after an edgy match. 

Tennis