Angelique Kerber of Germany won her first WTA title on Sunday by overpowering second-seeded Marion Bartoli 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 6-3 in the Open GDF Suez final.
Kerber became the first German to win the Paris tournament since Steffi Graf in 1995, clinching victory with a forehand winner.
“I knew I had nothing to lose,” Kerber said. “She was the favorite today.”
After a first set with four service breaks, Kerber capitalized on an unforced error from Bartoli to take a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker. She clinched the opening set when the Frenchwoman’s backhand sailed long.
Kerber then whipped a forehand crosscourt winner to break for a 2-0 lead in the next set, but the US Open semi-finalist failed to serve out the match at 5-3, as Bartoli won five straight games to even the match with an ace.
“I got a little bit nervous,” Kerber said about being 5-2 up in the second set.
Kerber jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the final set. Bartoli saved four match points at 5-2, but Kerber converted her fifth match point in the next game.
“I made a few tactical mistakes in the beginning of the third set that cost me,” Bartoli said. “I lost the match in those first four games.”
Kerber beat top-10 players for the first time in her career last week. As well as edging the seventh-ranked Bartoli, she also ousted the third-ranked Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals on Friday.
“That means a lot to me,” Kerber said. “Now I believe in me and I know that I can play with them.”