New York: Newly minted world number one Angelique Kerber is geared up for battle, not thank-you bouquets, when she takes on Karolina Pliskova in the US Open final on Saturday.
Pliskova’s triumph over Serena Williams in a semi-final shocker helped propel Kerber to the number one ranking.
But Kerber is still smarting from Pliskova’s upset win over her last month in the final at Cincinnati, a defeat she wants to avenge on one of the game’s biggest stages.
“For sure she has a lot of confidence,” Kerber said of the 10th-seeded Czech, who had never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam in 17 previous attempts. “Now especially with the win against Serena.
“I know it will be mentally for me also very tough because she knows that she won against me a few weeks ago.
“But at the end I know how I was playing in Cincinnati. I know what to change,” Kerber said.
The keys will be a sharp serve and an aggressive attack, unlike in Cincinnati where she was “just pushing the balls”.
“I will go out there trying to get my next chance against her and take the revenge,” she said.
Kerber, who finished 2015 ranked 10th in the world, is into her third Grand Slam final of the season after fashioning an upset win over Williams at the Australian Open in January and falling to the American in the title match at Wimbledon.
She’s just the fifth player to reach her first three Grand Slam finals in one year. The last to do it was Martina Hingis in 1997.
Pliskova is still riding the wave of momentum her Cincinnati triumph over Kerber sparked.
She may be in unfamiliar ground in the second week of a Grand Slam, but in Kerber she’ll face a well-known foe.
Kerber holds only a slight edge in their head-to-head record, with four victories in their seven matches.
“We played a lot of times,” said Pliskova, just the fourth player to beat both Serena and Venus Williams in the same Slam. “I lost to her, I won. So I will be ready for anything. That’s a final of a Grand Slam, so anything is possible.”
World number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic and third-seeded Stan Wawrinka will spend Saturday prepping for their championship showdown on Sunday.
The men’s doubles final will bring up the curtain on Arthur Ashe stadium, with Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazilian Bruno Soares taking on Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia Lopez.
Murray and Soares, who won the first Grand Slam they played together at the Australian Open in January, knocked off defending champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert to reach the final.