About    Archive    Contact

Visualizations of Day 13 at the 2016 U.S. Open

After three sets on a muggy Saturday in New York, Angelique Kerber defeated Karolina Pliskova to win her first U.S. Open Major and her second Grand Slam title of the year. Kerber had already secured the World No. 1 rank in getting to the finals, after Williams defeat to Pliskova in the semifinal. Pliskova was on a terrifying run, taking out both Williams sisters to get her spot in the final. While both women are still making themselves known to casual tennis fans, their performances at Flushing this weekend were an announcement to the world that we can expect to see them in more Major finals in years to come.

Here is the point-by-point review of how Kerber took this year’s U.S. Open title.

Kerber Marks No. 1 with a Major Win

There were a number of reasons to expect a close final match. Neither Kerber or Pliskova had ever appeared at the U.S. Open’s final before, and both would have cause for some nerves. Both women had also had impressive journeys over the two weeks to get to the final. Pliskova had taken out the Williams’ sisters and Kerber had strong wins over Petra Kvitova, 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci, and a reinvigorated Caroline Wozniacki.

Actual predictions for the match had Kerber with a 59% chance of a victory over Pliskova, a bit better than a toss of a coin. With such a narrow edge, one or two critical points could dramatically shift the odds in any of the opponents’ favor.

Kerber was the first to make a move, getting two break chances in Pliskova’s opening service game and converting the last. Steely as ever, Plsikova hunkered in and created a break opportunity in the following game. But the World No. 11 missed her opportunity. It was a pattern Pliskova would repeat five of seven times in the match and would ultimately cost her the match.

, , ,

Pliskova had two more missed break opportunities in the fourth game. With each of those missed chances, Kerber took more and more control over the odds throughout the first set. Going into the ninth game with Pliskova serving, Kerber’s win probability was at 77%. When Kerber swiftly forced a break point and secured the set, her chances rose to 82%.

At that point, Kerber was on course to steamroll to her first U.S. Open title. But Pliskova was going to make her work for the win. The signs of a possible upset came in the third game when Pliskova created the first break point of the second set. She missed that opportunity but didn’t lose belief. With both players on serve, Pliskova got another break chance in seventh and finally managed to take the game. That was a crucial turning point that dropped Kerber’s win chances back to their pre-match levels.

With just two service games to hold to pull out the set, Pliskova had only to hold back the nerves to take the set. Pliskova had won only 55% of service points in the match compared to Kerber’s 70%, but she managed to win the service points when she most needed to take the second set.

With a set each, Kerber entered the third set with just a 56% edge over Pliskova. It was truly any player’s match to win at that point.

Pliskova took the upperhand in the third game, creating two break chances, eventually taking the first break of the set. The probabilities reacted strongly to Pliskova’s strong move toward the win. After Pliskova held her next service game, Kerber’s chances had nosedived to 20%.

It would take a mental feat for Kerber to comeback from such a disadvantageous position with only a few games to go. But as she had against Serena Williams at the Australian Open earlier this year, Kerber managed to maintain her focus and edge. She made her move back in the sixth game, taking the break with one break point chance. Back on serve, the first player to get the break would be the bet to win. After heated games in the seventh and eighth it was Kerber who took the match in her hands in the tenth. Perhaps helped by a tight Pliskova, Kerber got to a break point chance at love in the decisive game. With each point, her odds increased by 10 percentage points: to 72% to 15-0, 82% at 30-0, and 92% at 40-0. It was a probabilistic certainty at that point that Kerber would be the new U.S. Open women’s champion.

If you liked this story, share it with your followers or follow this site @StatsOnTheT on Twitter.