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6 years ago

Angelique Kerber vs. Serena Williams | 2016 Australian Open Final | Highlights HD

TopTierTennis
Angelique Kerber walked onto Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night as a first-time Grand Slam finalist. She walked off as the Australian Open 2016 champion, cradling the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after producing the performance of her life to beat defending champion Serena Williams 6-4 3-6 6-4. Last year, Kerber lost in the first round at Melbourne Park. This year, she came back from match point down at the same stage, stunned two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals, then avoided a comedown against surprise semifinalist Johanna Konta. But the German saved her best for last, handing 21-time Grand Slam champion Williams just her fifth final defeat, and first in three sets. The leftie left nothing out there – angles, passes, scrambles to all corners of the court and two nerveless drop shot winners propelled Kerber to her first Grand Slam title against the six-time and defending champion. Williams was not at her best – she hit six double faults, struggled with her forehand and gave up 17 of 32 points at the net – but the world No.1 has so often found a way in spite of herself when it matters. Kerber simply wouldn’t allow Williams a way back into the match. The German hit just 13 unforced errors in the match – three in the both the first and third sets – while playing some of the best tennis of her career to seal victory in two hours and eight minutes. If Kerber’s decision to receive after winning the coin toss was to calm a few nerves before her first serve in a major final, the plan worked perfectly. Williams opened with a love hold before the German, under threat at 15-30 in the next game, stormed back to break the world No.1 a game later, three wickedly angled cross-court backhands catching Williams cold. Kerber held, and soon found herself two points from an all-but-unimaginable 4-1 lead before Williams roared – quite literally – her way back into the set. The 34-year-old began pulling the No.7 seed around the court and sending a series of second serves back with interest to level up at 3-3. Yet as soon as Williams had found her range, it deserted her once more. Time and again her forehand misfired, from the drive volley long that handed Kerber a second break, to the open court she missed as the No.7 seed consolidated. Desperately trying to summon her finest form, Williams screamed after a backhand winner as she forced Kerber to serve out the set. The German was nerveless, wrapping up the opener in 39 minutes. The Grand Slam debutant had made just three unforced errors in the set, the defending champion 23 – more than she had made in any other match in the tournament. For both women, it couldn’t last. By game four of the second set, Kerber’s count had doubled – two double-faults handed Williams the route she needed back into the match and the world No.1, far calmer both during and between points, took full advantage to open up a 4-1 lead. Kerber made Williams serve for it, her forehand winner to close out game eight drawing applause from the American before she closed it out, having cut her error count to just five. Eight times Williams had been taken the distance in Grand Slam finals, and eight times she had won – but Kerber, now in uncharted territory, had no interest in reverting to type. Having held with some clutch serving in the opener, Kerber broke to love, lasering a series of spectacular passing shots past Williams to lead 2-0. But after a break, you must hold. Ramping up the power and volume once more, Williams stepped in to take time away from Kerber and level up at 2-2, only for Kerber to win the game of the match, an 11-minute blockbuster of aces, passes, two showstopping drop shots from the German and a ball that clipped the net before hitting the onrushing Williams in the arm. Rattled, the defending champion hit two double faults before Kerber clinched a 3-2 lead on her fifth break point. This time, the 28-year-old pushed on towards victory. Nerves, all but inevitably, kicked in as she served for the match at 5-3, but she came again, rediscovering the length and lines that drew errant drives from Williams, who lofted one last volley long on Kerber’s first match point. With the victory, Kerber rises to No.2 in the world behind Williams, and is the first seventh seed to win the women’s singles crown in Melbourne since Williams 11 years ago.

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