Fourth-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia won her first tournament in almost four years after beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (7) in the final of the Pattaya Open at the Dusit Thani Resort last Sunday.
Makarova needed 1 hour, 36 minutes to defeat the 66th-ranked Pliskova and claim her second career title. She also won in Eastbourne on grass in 2010.
Ekaterina Makarova poses with the winner’s trophy following her victory in the singles final at the 2014 PTT Pattaya Open, Sunday, Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy PTT Pattaya Open)
“I’m very happy because today was a tough match. She was playing really great tennis. She was serving really good so I needed to be very focused on my returns,” said the elated champion.
Although Makarova won in straight sets, neither was easy. There was only one break of serve in the entire match, and that came at 4-3 in the first set when Pliskova put a forehand long. The Russian 4th seed then held her own service to take the set 6-3.
Ekaterina Makarova and Karolina Pliskova pose with Thai tennis tournament officials, deputy mayor Ronakit Ekasingh (2nd left) and Chatchawal Supachayanont, General Manager of the Dusit Thani Pattaya (far right), at the conclusion of the trophy presentation ceremony.
Her tall, big serving Czech opponent had started the match in bizarre fashion. Pliskova’s fired down an amazing six aces in her opening service game to show that that part of her game at least was a weapon to be feared, but she also faced two break points before finally holding.
Big serving Karolina Pliskova fired down 10 aces in the match.
Going straight into the next game, Pliskova held three break points of her own but was unable to capitalize on them and the match continued to go with serve until the eight game, when Pliskova was the first to falter.
The second set was a closer affair and produced a dramatic finale, but before that Pliskova held a couple of break points to lead 4-2, however she once again failed to convert. So, with no breaks it was tiebreak time and Makarova sped to a 5-2 lead. The match appeared to be over but then Pliskova staged a remarkable recovery and led 6-5 when her opponent made a mess of a smash and dumped it into the net.
Serving for the set, the Czech then chose that vital moment to produce her only double-fault of the match. And she also failed to win a second set point at 7-6, before netting a backhand on Makarova’s first match point at 8-7.
Makarova was unhappy afterwards that she let the tiebreak get so close.
“I was angry a little bit because she served twice really good and she returned just on the line and then it was 5-5. Then I missed a pretty easy ball (the smash). It got tighter and tighter and she had set point again. I just had to be focused and get everything in and try to be as aggressive as I could.”
Pliskova was disappointed to lose out in the final but was philosophical in defeat.
“I think she played better than me the whole match,” Pliskova said later. “I was just trying to stay in the match and trying to fight. What happened in my last matches that I won, from two match points down and 0-3 in the third, I was hoping that this could happen again. But it didn’t.”
Makarova collected $43,000 along with the title, boosting her career winnings to about $4.7 million. The unseeded Pliskova took home $21,400, increasing her career total to $600,000.
Makarova fires a backhand winner down the line.
In the later doubles final, the Chinese pairing of Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang came from a set down to defeat Russia’s Alla Kudryavtseva and Australian Anastasia Rodionova on a tiebreaker 3- 6, 7-6, (10- 6)
Spectators look on as the final moves towards its dramatic finish.