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Pliskova vs Barty WTA Miami Final Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Pliskova and Barty battle for maiden Premier Mandatory title

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 30 Mar 2019
  • Karolina Pliskova vs Ashleigh Barty is live from Miami on Saturday, 30 March from 1:00pm local time/ 5:00pm GMT
  • Pliskova and Barty are tied at 2-2 on head-to-head
Karolina Pliskova

A maiden Premier Mandatory title is on the line as Karolina Pliskova and Ashleigh Barty go head-to-head in the Miami Open final on Saturday. 

Barty and Pliskova are contesting a Premier Mandatory final for the first time in their careers, but while this is Barty's biggest final, it isn't for Pliskova, as the Czech has already contested a Grand Slam final at the 2016 US Open. Still, it would be the biggest career title for whoever emerges victorious on Saturday.

Both players came through a rain-hit Thursday to record straight set wins in their respective semi-finals, with Barty taking out Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-3, and Pliskova getting past Simona Halep 7-5 6-1 in the later match.

For Pliskova, she is seeking her second final of a solid season, which she began by winning the Brisbane International for a second time. Pliskova has reached at least the quarter final of every tournament she has contested this year, and leads the WTA Tour with 21 match wins. The Czech is guaranteed to break back into the top four on Monday, and should she win the title, she will rise to No. 2 in the world. 

Pliskova followed up her Brisbane title run with a semi-final at the Australian Open, where she knocked out Serena Williams in the quarter finals before falling to eventual champion, Naomi Osaka in the last four. She then made consecutive quarter finals in Dubai and Indian Wells, before advancing to her first final since the opening week of the season in Miami. It's her best ever performance in Florida, eclipsing her semi-final run in 2017.

The world No. 7 began her tournament with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Petra Martic, before recording consecutive come-from-behind three-set wins over Alize Cornet and Yulia Putintseva. Pliskova had a more comfortable outing in her quarter final against teenage compatriot, Marketa Vondrousova, winning 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes, before overcoming Halep in the semi-finals, stopping the Romanian's bid for the No. 1 ranking in Miami.

Pliskova's big serve found its mark 71% of the time against Halep, while she converted 75% of points behind her first serve. The Czech was very clean off the ground, striking 23 winners and just 16 unforced errors against an uncharacteristically wayward Halep. The Romanian contributed 20 unforced errors and managed just 14 winners.

Halep had actually made the early running, as she led 5-3, and served for the first set at 5-4, but Pliskova finished strongly, winning the last four games to take the opener. The Brisbane champion rammed home her advantage in the second set, charging to a 5-0. She was stopped in her tracks by another rain delay, but she returned at about 1:00am local time to polish off a very impressive victory.

"I think I played great the second set," Pliskova assessed after the match. "Of course I think [Halep] could maybe do a little bit better. Maybe she was of course frustrated about the first set where it didn't really go her way. I played some good shots, and it turned after the break. But, yeah, that's how it is, and I'm happy with my level."

She will have to reproduce that very high level on Saturday's as she confronts Australia's Ashleigh Barty for the right to become the 2019 Miami Open champion.

Prior to the 2019 Miami Open, Barty had never gone beyond the fourth round of a Premier Mandatory tournament, but she has smashed that record over the last fortnight, and will be rewarded with a spot in the top-ten for the first time in her career next Monday. 

Barty made light work of Dayana Yastremska and fellow Aussie, Sam Stosur in the her first two matches at the Hard Rock Stadium, breezing through for the loss of a combined eight games. Things naturally got more difficult in the next couple of rounds, as she ran into top-ten stars, Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova, but the Australian came through both matches in three sets, before overcoming Kontaveit, and several rain delays, in straight sets in Friday's semi-finals. 

Kontaveit led by a break in both sets, but Barty reeled her in on both occasions, eventually easing past the erratic Estonian in just an hour and 15 minutes (excluding several hours of rain delay, of course!).

“I'm so proud of myself and my team for trusting the process and enjoying the journey," Barty said. "I think we have had some amazing opportunities on the court to do some pretty special things”. 
"I think now we have another opportunity in a couple days' time to go out there and try and play a really good match. Obviously it's another chance at a title. Really excited to be in this position."

Barty is into her second final of a fine season, having opened the year with a runner-up finish in Sydney (lost to Petra Kvitova). She followed that up with a maiden Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open, where she again fell to Kvitova. The 22-year-old then scored a couple of fine Fed Cup wins for Australia as they defeated the United States to reach the semi-finals, before returning to the tour at Indian Wells, where she lost a tight one to Elina Svitolina in the fourth round.

That defeat against Svitolina prevented her from getting into the top ten at Indian Wells, but she has scaled that hurdle in Miami, and will now attempt to claim her biggest title when she plays Pliskova on Saturday.

Barty and Pliskova have split their four previous matches, with Pliskova winning their most recent encounter at the US Open. The Czech knows exactly what to expect on Saturday.

"I think [Barty] has a completely different style than these girls which I played," Pliskova admitted. "She's also trying to go for some winners. She has a slice backhand, she has a good serve, so she can move pretty well on the court, so she understands the game well, I think". 
"...I need to accept when she's playing well, and I know I can beat her."

If Pliskova gets her big-serving and power-hitting off both wings going, she has got the ability to take the racket off Barty's hands, but Barty' variety makes her such an uncomfortable opponent, as she can crank up the pace with her forehand, and slow things down with her slice backhand. I reckon Pliskova will look to avoid that slice, and direct much of the traffic to Barty's forehand.
Can Pliskova power her way to the Miami title, or will Barty carve a route around the Czech and beat her to a maiden Premier Mandatory title?

Karolina Pliskova vs Ashleigh Barty is live from Miami on Saturday, 30 March from 1:00pm local time/ 5:00pm GMT

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance 

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Pliskova vs Barty WTA Miami Final Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Pliskova and Barty battle for maiden Premier Mandatory title

Karolina Pliskova and Ashleigh Barty meet in the Miami Open final on Saturday, with both players seeking their maiden Premier Mandatory title. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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