By Chris Oddo, Sunday, October 13, 2013
Angelique Kerber made the most of her late entry, finishing the week with the Linz title after defeating Ana
Ivanovic in two tight sets.
Photo Credit: AFP
It started in controversy and ended in drama, but in the end the story of the Generali Ladies Linz in Austria was the fine play of Angelique Kerber, who outlasted Ana Ivanovic in a roller coaster ride in the final to win her first title of 2013, 6-4, 7-6(6).
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Kerber, who was a much talked about late entry into the draw on the Sunday before the tournament began, let her tennis do the talking over the course of the week. After being bageled in the first set of her first match against Monica Niculescu, the German went on a torrid stretch that saw her lose only 10 more games in four matches before the final.
By the semifinals, Kerber had wrapped up her second consecutive trip to the WTA Championships in Istanbul—mission accomplished. But the German was intent on making her trip to Linz last. She walloped Carla Suarez Navarro in the semis, losing only two games, which placed her in the final against the winningest player in the tournament's history, Ana Ivanovic.
At 20-3 with two titles in Linz, Ivanovic has become the de facto queen of Linz, and she backed up that assumption by winning in straight sets all the way to the final.
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Though Ivanovic would bring good form into her fifth career meeting with Kerber, and a 3-1 head-to-head record, it would be the German who would find ways to squeeze out all the essential points during their battle on Sunday.
After a wild first set was taken by Kerber 6-4, things got really interesting in the second set. Ivanovic scrambled back from a double-break deficit, and finally drew even when Kerber failed to convert a 40-0 advantage while serving at 5-4. Ivanovic would then hold for a 6-5 lead and have two set points in the next game with Kerber serving, but she couldn't convert.
After a brief, mysterious injury timeout for the Serb and a smile of contempt from Kerber as she sat in her chair and watched the WTA trainer rub Ivanovic's belly, the tiebreaker began.
Ivanovic started swiftly, winning the the first two points, then faded, dropping the next four. After another hot run of four consecutive points, Ivanovic had two more set points to work with, but once again she faltered at the wrong time, losing the final four points and the match to Kerber as her final backhand sailed into the net on Kerber's fourth match point of the afternoon.
The victory was Kerber's first title of 2013 and third of her career. It snaps a four-match losing streak in finals for the German.
Ivanovic, who won the event in Linz in 2008 and 2010, has gone without a title since 2011. Her record in Linz drops to 20-4 with the loss.
Though it was a straight-sets victory for Kerber in the end, only the thinnest of margins separated the two players from beginning to end--it's something that Ivanovic can take with her into 2014, as she aspires to work her way back to the top 10 by playing more consistent tennis.
As for Kerber, she'll make her second appearance at the WTA Championships with some confidence, having ended an 18-month title drought on a week where nobody knew she'd even be playing until the very last minute.