Pliskova beats Wimbledon champ Kerber in Eastbourne final

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EASTBOURNE, England — Karolina Pliskova beat Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-4 in the Eastbourne final on Saturday, just two days before the grass-court Grand Slam starts in southwest London.

The No. 3-ranked Pliskova took the first set in just 31 minutes with three service breaks Saturday, and held on to an early break in the second to win the title. She fired seven aces and won 71 percent of points on her first serve.

Pliskova said the score didn’t reflect a tough match.

“I was fighting a lot and I think Angelique is one of the best grass-court players,” she said.

Pliskova didn’t drop a set all week in Eastbourne, and dropped just 19 games across five matches, including a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of fourth-ranked Kiki Bertens in the semifinals. She’s never gone further than the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Kerber hasn’t won a tournament since beating Serena Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final.

Pliskova previously won Eastbourne in 2017, a year after losing the final. Kerber has lost all three finals she has played at the Wimbledon tuneup.

Kerber starts her Wimbledon title defense against fellow German Tatjana Maria, and is in the same quarter of the draw as Williams and top-ranked Ash Barty. Pliskova starts against China’s Zhu Lin.