Melbourne, Jan 30 (IANS) German Angelique Kerber pulled out a stunner to shock one and all by defeating 21-time Major winner and defending champion Serena Williams to lift the women’s singles crown at the Australian Open — her first Grand Slam – at Melbourne Park here on Saturday.
Going into the summit clash, Serena, a six-time winner here, was the heavy favourite with Angelique playing her first Grand Slam final. The World No.1 Serena had won the pair’s last four meetings, all of them in straight sets.
The current World No.5, who will become No.2 when the rankings are revised on Monday, was just too solid in the first set, drawing 23 unforced errors from the American’s racquet and breaking twice to take it 6-4. Serena rebounded well to power to a 4-1 lead in the second set, eventually taking it 6-3 to push the contest into the decider.
The seventh seeded German never stopped believing and built a 2-0 lead in the third set. Though the top seed caught up to 2-all, Angelique raced out to a 5-2 lead.
The World No.1 nearly caught up again as she won the next two games and was a point away from 5-all but the seventh seed had just enough steam to finally close the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes at the famous Rod Laver Arena.
With the win, Angelique became only the second German woman in the Open Era to win a Major after Steffi Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam titles in her legendary career.
The World No.5 is also the first woman in the Open Era to win a Major having saved a match point in the first round against Misaki Doi.
“Angie, congratulations. You really deserved it. Let me be the first to congratulate you. I hope you enjoy this moment,” said Serena.
With a great big smile on her face, Angelique followed Serena to the podium.
“First of all, I would like to say congratulations to Serena. You’re really an inspiration for so many people and young tennis players. You’ve created history. You’re a champion. You’re also an unbelievably great person. So congratulations to everything you’ve already done,” the German said.
“When I was match point down, I actually had one leg in the plane back to Germany. I got a second chance and I took that chance to be here in the final to play against Serena. I’m really honoured to be in this final and to win it – my dream came true tonight.”