A star-studded matchup between Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova is capping off a wonderful tennis week in Eastbourne. Will the German conquer her first trophy in town or will Pliskova collect her second crown? Here is our prediction.
WTA Eastbourne Final Prediction
Angelique Kerber vs Karolina Pliskova
Head to Head: Kerber 7-4 Pliskova
Two of the best players on tour are squaring off on Saturday at the Nature Valley International final. The winner will walk away with 470 points, $173,000, and a major confidence boost heading into Wimbledon. Both Kerber and Pliskova have flummoxed the opposition this week. Neither the German nor the Czech have dropped a set so far. On Friday, Kerber enjoyed a quiet day at the office, not even needing to suit up for her match against Ons Jabeur, while Pliskova demolished Kiki Bertens 6-1 6-2 in merely 56 minutes of work.
Kerber, the top grass player in the world according to Tennis Abstract’s ELO Ratings, has won an outstanding 46% of her return points this week. In turn, Pliskova has been even more dominant on that end, capturing an absurd 52%t of the points when receiving. You read that correctly, the 2017 Eastbourne champion won more than half of her return points, something unthinkable on grass. Pliskova is stepping onto the court and punishing weak second serves at will. The 27-year-old has spent an average 58 minutes on court in four matches; i.e. ruthless demolition.
While Pliskova’s numbers are slightly stronger, I believe the matchup favors Kerber. A two time finalist in Eastbourne (2012, 2014), the Bremen native won the lone precedent on grass between the two. Pliskova plays a more direct brand of tennis, amassing plenty of aces and baseline winners. Moreover, she possesses a deft touch at the net. For her part, Kerber relies on counterpunching. She owns the best defense-to-offense transition on tour. The German always seems to find a way to catch her rivals wrong-footed. Her ability to change directions when hitting open stance groundstrokes is second to none and that is the difference maker to me. Make no mistake, Pliskova is playing lights out, but if there is a player who can coax her into making one too many errors, it is Kerber.
Prediction: Kerber in 3
Main Photo from Getty