Comeback Kerber Captures Maiden Family Circle Cup Title

Angelique Kerber found her best tennis right when she needed it. Sunday at the Family Circle Cup the German seeded No. 5 rallied from 1-4 down in the third set, beating American Madison Keys 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in a dramatic encounter.

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It’s a fourth WTA title for Kerber, who exacted revenge over the 20-year-old Illinois native after Keys had beaten her in the Eastbourne final last summer.

Kerber had a week to remember on Daniel Island: She came from a set down to win her first match against little-known Evgeniya Rodina in the second round, then shocked No. 3 seed and defending champion (as well as good friend) Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals on Saturday.

Keys led 4-1 in the deciding set before Kerber won the final six out of seven games, rallying for the victory. On match point, both players ended up on the green clay, a hard-fought point and match by each woman. Kerber keeps the German flag flying over Billie Jean King Stadium Court a year after countrywoman Petkovic won here. In 2009 Sabine Lisicki, another German, was champion, and Steffi Graf is a four-time winner.

“It’s unbelievable,” said world No. 16 said after the triumph. “I mean to win the title here in Charleston after really difficult weeks that I had… I’m feeling great. I had last year four finals and I didn’t won one [sic], so it’s great to win actually this tournament.” 

The two battled for nearly three hours on an overcast day on Billie Jean King Stadium Court, in a match that showcased the raw power of Keys and Kerber’s relentless ball-retrieving skills. The 27-year-old German is now 3-1 against Keys in head-to-head encounters.

“I was in the third set just telling to myself, you know, ‘Just go for it and just try,'” Kerber said. “And I did it. So I think that was the key at the end, that I just was going for it.”

Keys couldn’t overcome Kerber’s consistency and pinpoint-placed drop shots, either.

“At the end she just didn’t make any mistakes,” a teary-eyed Keys told reporters. “And I started making a couple more, and that was really the match.”

Continued Keys: “If you can’t be first, I guess it’s okay to be second. (This week is) definitely something that I’m proud of, and just (I’ll) learn from it and, you know, use it towards the next couple of weeks on clay.”

Kerber, a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist, won her first title in nearly 18 months. She also turned around a slow start to the 2015 season, having come into Charleston at 8-9.

“I worked very hard in the last few weeks, and every single match here I played very good,” she said. “So I’m looking forward, and I think I have for sure the confidence that the next tournament will be going good, too.”