Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Big wins for Cilic and Pliskova

Well Serena's place atop the world rankings is safe at least for awhile thanks to Karolina Pliskova's destruction of Angie Kerber in the Cincinnati Premier 5 final.  The German serve was easy pickings for Karolina, as Kerber struggled from the outset to take advantage of a commendable percentage of accurate first deliveries.

The opening set saw Pliskova win 11 of 19 points from the Kerber first serve, and convert each of the three break points that came her way,  Angie somehow managed to create four break points of her own, despite the Czech dominance, but she could only break once and set one was inevitably Karolina's 6-3.

Set two was even more emphatic, with Pliskova winning 72% of points on her serve compared with Kerber 46%.  The only two breaks of serve belonged to the Czech Republic and the match was won 6-3 6-1.

Angie has now lost the last three finals in which she has appeared, not having won since Stuttgart in April.  One of those losses was the Wimbledon final to Serena but in the other two she started favourite coming up short - perhaps not a major concern just yet, but a trend the world number two would prefer to alter.

Meanwhile for Karolina, the victory was her second of 2016 and first at Premier 5 level, seeing her ranking jump from 17 to 11.  Her hope will be a solid run at the US Open because to date her performances at Grand Slam level have been appalling, never reaching beyond the third round at any of the majors.

Andy Murray was seemingly cruising to another title, but in the Cincinnati Masters final Marin Cilic surprised us with another of his performances which, while sadly he provides too infrequently, are great to witness on the occasions he does.

The 2014 US Open champion reminded the tennis world of his credentials virtually on the eve of Flushing Meadows 2016 with a straight sets defeat of the best performed male player in the world over the past two months.

There was little to choose between the two in set one, and for once the stats agreed.  Similar success in first serve percentages and again with points won on serve.  Break point opportunities were rare but when they arose, both players were about as successful as each other in conversion.
Cilic just edged his opponent though, breaking twice from three chances, Murray once from two.  The set to the twelfth seed 6-4.

Set two was won by Cilic 7-5 but on court the gap between him and Murray was clearly more than just a single service break.  
The Croatian racquet was on fire, allowing Cilic to win 24 points from his 27 serves, serving five aces and no double faults.  The Scottish equipment was working ok but not to the same level, providing Murray 25 points from his 38 serves, no aces and two double faults.

Cilic created five break points on the Murray serve and had none on his own delivery to worry about saving.  One conversion was sufficient and Andy's undefeated run ended.
A terrific win for Marin Cilic 6-4 7-5.

The win propelled Cilic five spots into the top ten at number nine, while the other significant mover was Cincinnati semi finalist Grigor Dimitrov who is back in the top 30, leaping 10 places to 24.

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