Angelique Kerber remains the woman of the hour on the WTA Tour. After a dramatic final that went down to the wire, the German reeled off the final four games in front of an ecstatic home crowd to win her second title in two weeks.
After a week full of upsets, breakthrough runs and fantastic tennis, it was home crowd favorite Angelique Kerber than romped through the draw to capture her fifth career title. After taking out three-time defending champion Maria Sharapova in the second round — in one of the tournament’s best matches — the 27-year-old uncurb(er)ed her enthusiasm and followed it up with wins over Top 10 player Ekaterina Makarova and underdog semi-finalist Madison Brengle.
In the Sunday finals, the German lefty capped off a sensational three weeks by downing World No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets, fulfilling the prediction close friend Andrea Petkovic made earlier this week.
“She played very well from the first point,” Kerber said of Wozniacki, who took a decisive one-set lead.
“In the second set I was being more aggressive and she made a little more mistakes. But in the third set was like I was down 1-3, 3-5 and I was just trying to fight until the last point. I was feeling pain everywhere in my body, but the crowd was so amazing that I was just trying to take the energy that I had left in me to run for every point.”
Wozniacki was understandably disappointed, having had a chance to serve out the match at 5-3 in the third and coming within two points of winning the tournament.
“Obviously, it’s very disappointing to lose a match like that. I feel like I should have won it. But in the end of the day, it’s tennis. That’s what happens and it’s all about just keeping your head up and go back on the practice court tomorrow to keep getting better.
“Right now, it still sucks. I don’t know, I might have to get the aggression out tomorrow on the practice court.”
Kerber was obviously elated to win one of her biggest titles in front of a home crowd, record a third Top 10 win in four days and battle through despite being low on fuel towards the end of her encounter with Wozniacki.
“It’s definitely a most special moment because winning the title here in Stuttgart in front of a home crowd is something really special, in front of family, friends and the incredible crowd.
“This is the kind of success that’ll always stay in my heart.”
For Wozniacki it has been a great week — with wins over a pair of clay courters in Carla Suarez Navarro and Simona Halep — and is hoping to take this newfound confidence through the next few weeks.
“Angie also played very well. In general I can say I can take a lot of positives from this week. You know, just bring it with me for the next few events — and especially Paris.”
During the second set there was slight agitation when the Dane received a coaching warning, triggering her father to have an animated discussion with WTA supervisor Laura Ceccarelli from the sidelines. The former World No. 1 said she tried to keep focus during the set and not let it affect her too much, but ended up going down 1-6, missing much more as Kerber slowly found the form that got her through to the final.
The final set proved to be fairly even to start, but was ultimately determined by significant momentum shifts in the end and Kerber’s own refusal to back down.
“I know that, against her, you have always tough rallies and long rallies. I need to run for every single point. At the end, I was just trying to fight until the last point. Because I have in my mind that I can turn round matches like this. So, I was believing in myself until the last point. Then, when I made the match point it was just an amazing feeling to win here in front of my home crowd.”
Both women will do some training and resting over the course of the next week, and will return to action at the Mutua Madrilena Open next weekend. We’ll then see if Wozniacki will continue to thrive on the red clay, and whether the German can bottle the lightning she’s captured for a little longer and extend her now 11-match win streak.
In the doubles finals, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova captured their second title in only their third tournament together. The pair had won the Australian Open in their debut tournament and have now captured the title in Stuttgart to open their red clay campaign. Watch out for more on the Czech-American winning team over the course of the next couple of days!
This concludes our Stuttgart on-site coverage. How do you feel about the Dane’s and the German’s chances over the remainder of the clay season? And what did you make of the finals? Sound off in the comments!