Miami 2019 women's final, Karolina Pliskova vs Ashleigh Barty: Preview and prediction
- A preview of the Miami Open final between Pliskova and Barty, and a look back at some of the notable performances of the fortnight.
After a splendid week of tennis, it is finally down to the last two in Miami. While neither Karolina Pliskova nor Ashleigh Barty were involved in the more memorable matches of the tournament this year, they are the two players who weathered the storm to reach the summit clash.
Before we dive into the preview of the final, let's look at the honorable mentions who put in exemplary efforts in the past fortnight.
The tournament would not have been the same without the inspired performance from the Taiwanese star. She overcame, and quite frankly outplayed, some of the most fancied opponents this week including the top ranked player in the world, Naomi Osaka.
She is coming back for more too, preparing for the clay season already. We will have to wait and watch for what Hsieh has to offer on the European clay, but for now she can relax and relish in the glory of her recent performances.
Her hunger for winning is a testament to her champion status, and that is without even mentioning her top-notch game in Miami. Williams might have come up short in her match against Simona Halep, but she will be back for more surely.
No other player has played as much tennis as her in the current season, and no has played as well as her. Made clear by her top ranking in this year's Race to the WTA finals rankings, Kvitova is definitely the one to look our for in the next leg of the tour.
With few points to defend in the remainder of the year, she is already on the right path in her quest to become the No. 1 ranked player in the world.
Monica Niculescu, Rebecca Peterson, Mona Barthel, Samantha Stosur and Yulia Putinseva also delivered performances that they can build on in the rest of the season.
Plisokva has had an easier route to the finals, not having faced a seeded opponent until Halep in the semifinals. That's not to say that she was not tested by the players that came up against her; Alize Cornet and Putintseva gave the 5th seeded Czech a run for her money, but she came out on top on both occasions.
Pliskova has seemingly got better with every match, playing her best tennis in the quarterfinal and semifinal matches. She looks confident with her game, which depends heavily on how well she is serving. Her groundstrokes in her match against Halep were also top drawer and as flat and powerful as they get from her.
Add her experience of playing on the big stage, and she walks in as the favorite to win tonight's final. For Pliskova, however, the key would be to assert her dominance early in the match and to find her serving groove. If she manages to do that, she will be hard to keep away from the lifting the trophy.
Ash Barty meanwhile has been no pushover this week either. She lost only eight games in her first two matches, until she was tested thoroughly by hard hitting opponents including Kiki Bertens and Kvitova, both of whom she outlasted in three set matches.
Barty puts an extra bit of weight on the ball and has the variety in her shots to back up her power. If she manages to frustrate Pliskova by engaging in long exchanges, you cannot help but fancy her chances in the match.
Barty has troubled even the most experienced campaigners on tour with her slice-heavy game, and has been growing in confidence over the tournament. Her reaction after her semifinal win over Anett Kontaveit spoke volumes about her self-belief.
Having seen how quickly Pliskova's game can break down under pressure, as was the case in her loss to Hsieh Su-wei earlier on this year, one has to wonder if Barty would be the more free-swinging player here. The Aussie has also taken tiny steps towards making it on the big stage over the past couple of years.
This can be a tight one, but I have to give the edge to Barty here, purely based on her ability to play her own brand of unorthodox tennis, which has troubled Pliskova in the past.
Barty winning in three sets is the most likely outcome of this one.