BRISBANE (AFP) - Karolina Pliskova used all her big match experience as she came from a set down to overhaul Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko and win the Brisbane International on Sunday (Jan 6).
The unseeded Tsurenko looked headed for the biggest win of her career when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, only for Pliskova to come storming back to win 4-6,7-5, 6-2 and claim her second Brisbane title.
Pliskova, the tournament's fifth seed, started slowly and paid the penalty against Tsurenko, who was serving superbly and winning the battle from the baseline.
"I just felt somehow tired from the beginning of the day," the Czech said.
"I was missing my shots, just not feeling the timing perfectly. I was sleeping bad. So everything was somehow going the other way." Tsurenko took the first set in 38 minutes, firing 10 winners and making 81 per cent of her first serves.
She took that form into the second set and broke Pliskova early.
However, serving for the match at 5-4, she tightened up and Pliskova won 13 of the next 14 points to level the match.
The third set was all Pliskova as she broke Tsurenko twice to wrap up the final in two hours, 12 minutes.
"I don't know what really changed at 5-4," Tsurenko said.
"I think we had the great fight until 5-4, and then suddenly, I don't know, maybe she raised her level so much that I was not ready for that.
"It's going to be a big lesson for me, and I'm trying to stay positive."
The Brisbane title is the 12th of the world No. 8's career and sets Pliskova in good stead ahead of the Australian Open.
The 26-year-old has long been touted as a future winner of a Grand Slam, but despite a stint as world No. 1 her best result in a major was runner-up to Angelique Kerber at the 2016 US Open.
But she said her ability to win the final would help her in Melbourne.
"When you're able to turn these matches around, it gives you some extra and different confidence," Pliskova said.
"So it's not about only playing well. Sometimes you just feel horrible, and it's going to happen in Grand Slams for sure because it's for two weeks, so you cannot play amazing for two weeks. I think I just dug deep today, and that's important."