The U.S. Open finalist will return to a career-high No. 5 ranking for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 16, after winning her first Brisbane title and seventh on the WTA tour.
The first set lasted less than 20 minutes, with third-seeded Pliskova not dropping a point on serve until the last game. Cornet, who was unseeded and ranked No. 41, didn’t get on the scoreboard until she held to open the second set.
The 24-year-old Pliskova had a breakout season in 2016, reaching her first Grand Slam final – beating both Venus and Serena Williams before losing to Angelique Kerber at the U.S. Open – and helping the Czech Republic win the Fed Cup.
On the men’s side, Milos Raonic’s title defense ended in a semifinal loss to Grigor Dimitrov, a day after his come-from-behind win over Rafael Nadal.
Top-seeded Raonic beat Roger Federer for the title here last year, avenging a loss to the Swiss star in the 2015 final, and appeared to be on course for a third straight Brisbane final when he had set point in the first-set tiebreaker against Dimitrov.
But the 25-year-old Dimitrov fended off that set point and converted his own moments later. He broke Raonic’s serve twice in the second set on the way to a 7-6 (7), 6-2 win.
Raonic didn’t blame the late finish Friday against Nadal, or the toll that playing the 14-time Grand Slam winner took on his body, for his lapses on Saturday.
Dimitrov “made it obviously very difficult (and) I didn’t turn around and bring the performance I needed to bring,” Raonic said. “I was just a tidbit slow. “
Raonic made the semifinals at the Australian Open last year, reached his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and finished the year at No. 3 in the rankings. But he hasn’t won a title since his success in Brisbane last year. He thinks his preparation can change that in 2017.
“I feel very good about it,” he said. “I’m on that right track – I feel like if I can avoid that hiccup, I can have a very, very good time in Melbourne.”
The No. 17-ranked Dimitrov improved his record to 3-1 in career meetings against Raonic and set up a final against Kei Nishikori, who beat U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 6-3 to reach the final for the first time at the season-opening tournament.
Nishikori has a 3-0 record against Dimitrov, who lost the 2013 Brisbane final to Andy Murray and was ousted by Federer in his last two trips to Brisbane.
Wawrinka, who won the Chennai tournament in India in the first week of the season for the three previous years, had treatment on his left ankle in the first and second sets but didn’t expect it to cause him any trouble at the Australian Open.
Third-seeded Nishikori took full advantage, converting his first break point in the second set to take a 3-1 lead when Wawrinka missed consecutive backhands. The No. 2-seeded Wawrinka broke back immediately, but dropped his serve again in the next game.
Wawrinka beat Nishikori in the semifinals of the U.S. Open last year; his only win in their past four matches. Now they’re tied 4-4 in career meetings.
Nishikori was making his seventh trip to Brisbane, and playing a semifinal for the fourth time.
“I tried many times, and this is first time to get Sunday, so I’m really happy,” the 2014 U.S. Open finalist said. “And especially beating Stan today, it was a good start of the year. Tomorrow it’s going to be maybe tougher match, but I look forward to playing the final.”