A stunner Down Under saw Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams for the Australian Open title on Saturday night. Playing in her first Grand Slam final, Kerber shocked the 21-time major champion 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes.
It was an opportunity, too, that the German almost never even got. In fact, she had faced a match point in her very first contest of the tournament against Masaki Doi. Kerber saved it, and the rest is history.
As a heavy favorite in just about every match in which he plays, Williams is obviously no stranger to being upset. One such development, of course, came in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals with the world No. 1 just two wins away from the calendar-year slam. But Roberta Vinci pulled off one of the biggest surprises in tennis history. Perhaps inspired by the knowledge that something like this was possible, and by the fact that she had once beaten Williams (2012 in Cincinnati), Kerber came out firing and took the first set 6-4. Williams answered back in the second, setting the stage for a dramatic third.
Keber stormed ahead 2-0 only to give back her break advantage. At 2-2. the underdog survived a service game that lasted almost 11 minutes. That gave her the momentum she would need to eventually seize a 5-2 lead. Williams pulled to within 4-5, but the top-seeded American cracked at the finish line. On Kerber’s first championship point at ad-out, Williams sent a forehand volley just long to end it.
“I had really crazy two weeks,” Kerber reflected. “I mean, with the first round where I was match point down, and then with the win over (Victoria) Azarenka in the quarters…. I never beat her. And now to play against Serena, what was a really honor to play against her in a Grand Slam final. I was really looking forward (to it). I was really excited…. It was a really great match from both of us. Really it’s a special moment for me.”
“I was actually really happy for her,” Williams admitted. “She’s been around a really long time. We’ve had a number of matches (against each other). She played so well today. She had an attitude that I think a lot of people can learn from: just to always stay positive and to never give up. I was really inspired by that. So, honestly, she’s a really good girl. If I couldn’t win, I’m happy she did.”