Melbourne: Angelique Kerber has shocked defending champion Serena Williams to claim her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday.
Germany's Angelique Kerber holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after her victory during the women's singles final against Serena Williams of the US on day thirteen of the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. Pic/AFP
The German seventh seed claimed a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over world number one Serena in an enthralling summit clash that lasted two hours and eight minutes at Rod's Laver Arena.
The 28-year-old power-hitting southpaw also denied Williams a chance to win an seventh Melbourne singles title, and to match German great Steffi Graf,s 22 Grand Slams record.
The German faced the powerful Williams serve first up, and failed to win a point against it. Kerber appeared nervous and sent down a double fault, but steadied herself and a forehand long from Williams allowed her to hold. She soon began finding her range and against the odds broke the American to go 2-1 in front when the top seed whipped an easy backhand out.
An errant Williams was hitting too many errors and Kerber held serve comfortably to apply more pressure. Down 0-30 on her serve in the next game, Williams began screaming "C'mon' to pump herself up.
A delicate drop shot and a lightning serve allowed her to hold for 2-3. It seemed to temporarily flip a switch in the American who broke back, smashing a powerful forehand down the line to haul herself level. But the errors kept coming from Williams, who swiped a wild backhand and then missed an easy volley to hand Kerber another break as the German dictated the baseline points.
Too many routine shots were being sprayed wide and long, with Kerber happily taking easy points to go 3-5 in front. Williams managed to hold serve to stay in touch but 23 unforced errors to the German's three told the story of the first set, which Kerber wrapped up in 39 minutes -- the first set the world number one had dropped all tournament.
Rattled, Williams began cleaning up her act to hold serve in the first game of the second set. It went with serve until the fourth game when Kerber dug herself a hole with two double faults that helped Williams to a 3-1 lead. The world number one fired her first ace of the match in going 4-1 in front and, more controlled, began shooting down some damaging groundstrokes.
Williams took the match into a deciding third set having made only five unforced errors, in stark contrast to her wayward first set. But it was Kerber who grabbed a decisive break in the third set as she reeled off a brilliant passing shot on her way to a 2-0 lead. It was just a temporary moment of jubilation as Williams quickly broke back. The finely poised match went with serve until a titanic sixth game. Williams saved four break points but couldn't save the fifth as she looped a forehand long. It spelled the end of the road for the American as Kerber held her nerve to win her first Grand Slam when Williams put another volley long.
Angelique Kerber's path to the Australian Open final on Saturday (x denotes seeded player)
Angelique Kerber (GER x7) 1st rd: bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-3
2nd rd: bt Alexandra Dulgheru (ROM) 6-2, 6-4
3rd rd: bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-1, 6-3
4th rd: bt Annika Beck (GER) 6-4, 6-0
QF: bt Victoria Azarenka (BLR x14) 6-3, 7-5
SF: bt Johanna Konta (GBR) 7-5, 6-2
F: bt Serena Williams (USA x1) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4