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 US wild-card Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ heart with a come-from-behind 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory in 106 minutes at Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort in Kuala Lumpur.
Defeat for Mattek-Sands, who has 12 doubles titles to her name at the age of 28, meant her search for a maiden singles crown continues.
Buoyed after winning at last week’s Dubai Duty Free Championships doubles title with India’s Sania Mirza, Minnesota-born Mattek-Sands started strongly, breaking the world No. 197 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.
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.
She received US$40,000 for the title while Mattek-Sands pocketed US$20,000.
Defending champion, Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan, lost to Mattek-Sands in the quarter-finals on Friday.
In the doubles, No. 2 seeds Chang Kai-Chen of Taiwan and Shuko Aoyama of Japan battled back to defeat top seeds Janette Husarova of Slovakia and Zhang Shuai of China in an epic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 14-12 victory.
It was 22-year-old Taouyan-born Chang’s fourth WTA doubles title.
The world No. 120 and Taiwan Fed Cup player has yet to win a WTA singles title, but reached the final of the OEC Taipei Ladies Open in November last year, where she lost to Kristina Mladenovic of France.
Additional reporting by Staff writer