Pliskova wins maiden WTA title

March 04, 2013 - 12:09:02 am

Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic kisses the trophy after defeating Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the US in the singles final at the BMW Malaysian Open tournament in Kuala Lumpur, yesterday. Pliskova won 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.

KUALA LUMPUR: Karolina Pliskova shrugged off a first-set thrashing and a 40-minute rain delay to win her first WTA singles crown at the BMW Malaysian Open yesterday.

The Czech, who was playing in her first WTA final, broke American wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ heart with a come-from-behind 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory in 106 minutes in Kuala Lumpur.

“I was a little nervous at the start and couldn’t get my serves in. That contributed to the heavy loss,” said Pliskova.

Mattek-Sands, fresh from victory with doubles partner Sania Mirza of India at last week’s Dubai Duty Free Championships, started strongly, breaking the world No. 197 Pliskova three times in the first set to close out an 18-minute 6-1 win.

Pliskova, 20, the 2010 Australian Open junior champion, upped her game in the second set, covering the court better and having success returning Mattek-Sands’ powerful groundstrokes.

Despite losing serve early on, she broke her opponent twice to win the set in 44 minutes.

“I woke up in the second set and began to serve better. This helped turn the tide. 

The third set was even at 1-1 when rain disrupted play for 40 minutes, with Pliskova looking refreshed after the break and prevailing over Mattek-Sands to clinch the biggest payday of her career.

“It was a tough match but I’m delighted to win my first singles title. I still can’t believe it,” she said. The field was thrown open earlier in the week when top seed and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki -- suffering from a high temperature -- crashed out in the first round in a defeat to qualifier Wang Qiang of China.

Mattek-Sands, who has 12 doubles titles to her name at the age of 28, will now have to wait longer for a first singles crown.

“I’m still happy with the way I played all week. I don’t think the rain delay affected me at all. Just that she played very well,” said Mattek-Sands.

Pliskova received $40,000 for the title while Mattek-Sands pocketed $20,000. AFP