Karolina Pliskova is the first player to win three Brisbane International titles, following her triumph over eighth seed Madison Keys on Sunday.
Despite having her upper left leg strapped, the Czech showed no signs of fatigue from a near three-hour semi-final against Naomi Osaka in a 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory on Pat Rafter Arena.
It marked the first time in the world No.2’s career she successfully defended a title and she became the first to defend a Brisbane title since Serena Williams six years ago.
“I think that’s more special than winning is that I finally defend,” Pliskova said.
“That’s always, I think, harder. But, yeah, it took me a couple of years to do it, but pleased with that.”
The two-hour, seven-minute triumph follows a near three-hour semi-final victory on Saturday night over Osaka and comes after Brisbane titles in 2017 and 2019.
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Pliskova won a tight first set then jumped ahead with an early break in the second, before Keys launched a comeback similar to the one that propelled her into the decider on Saturday over another Czech Petra Kvitova.
But the second seed didn’t waver, again leaning on her serve and holding her own from the baseline.
A backhand error handed Pliskova a chance to serve out the match, but Keys broke back as the contest went beyond two hours.
History repeated in the following game though, Keys pushing a backhand long to gift the European another break she would not relinquish.
“This time, I don’t think it was [my] perfect tournament, maybe last year I played here and there a little better, but maybe I was fighting more this time and just somehow [found] a way to win the matches, which is important,” Pliskova said.
“And I beat only good top players, so there was nobody really easy this time.”
Keys rued her missed opportunities in the two-hour, 10-minute outing against an opponent she had never played, but was full of praise for her conqueror.
“I think the biggest thing is I think she actually, she anticipates really well,” Keys said.
“So even if you wouldn’t say that movement is her strength, she covers the court really well, and I think that starts kind of making you try to go for it a little bit more. So I was definitely impressed by that today.”