Kerber victorious at Family Circle

Reuters

Tue, Apr 14, 2015 - Page 18

Germany’s Angelique Kerber defeated Madison Keys of the US 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in an enthralling final of the Family Circle Cup at Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday.

Kerber’s fourth career win is to see her rise from her current position of 16th in the world rankings after what overall had been a disappointing season.

However, the German looked to have her trademark defensive game back in full effect and she was relentless against Keys in the grueling battle.

Keys, who beat Kerber in the Eastbourne final last year, looked nervous and out-of-sorts as she was broken three times in the first set.

However, the 20-year-old from Illinois battled back in the second, breaking to win the set after a series of serves where Kerber pushed her all the way.

Keys, confidence fully restored, then broke out to a 4-1 lead in the third set, but Kerber won six of the next seven games, breaking to go 6-5 up and then serving out to love to secure the championship.

“I feel great. Madison is a great player and she played very well today so I think both of us are champions,” said the 27-year-old Kerber, who beat compatriot Andrea Petkovic in the semi-final.

Kerber suffered early round exits to lower ranked players in Indian Wells and Miami after a first round exit in the Australian Open.

Sania Mirza became the first Indian to climb to the top of the WTA doubles ranking after she teamed up with Swiss great Martina Hingis to claim the Family Circle Cup title.

The 28-year-old won her third successive doubles title with Hingis, following triumphs in Indian Wells and Miami, to achieve the top ranking milestone.

“When you start off as a child playing tennis, you dream of being No. 1 in the world. It’s a dream for every person; very few get there. I feel extremely honored to be No. 1, it’s something that I’ve worked for all my life,” Mirza said in a statement.

“I hope this makes girls in India believe that anything is possible; we can achieve anything we want if we put our mind and body to it,” Mirza added.

Mirza had once been tipped for success as a singles player after she became the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005. She followed up her success in her hometown of Hyderabad by reaching the fourth round of the US Open in 2005 and two years later broke into the top 30.

However, from then on her singles career went into free fall, with injuries taking a toll.

However, on the doubles court her career prospered, as she became the first Indian woman to claim a grand slam title when she partnered with Mahesh Bhupathi to the 2009 Australian Open mixed doubles crown.

The new WTA rankings were set to be released yesterday, and Mirza’s run of winning 14 successive doubles matches with Hingis is to see her leapfrog Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci at the top of the standings.

“It is a truly remarkable accomplishment for Sania Mirza to become the first Indian woman to reach the WTA World No. 1 doubles ranking,” WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said.

“Sania has attained many milestones throughout her successful career and this achievement is a fitting recognition of her talent, dedication and success,” Allaster said.

“I am sure Sania will continue to create history and inspire our ever-growing fan base in India and the wider Asia-Pacific region,” she added.

Only three other Asian women have achieved the top WTA doubles ranking: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, Japan’s Ai Sugiyama and China’s Peng Shuai.

Leander Paes and Bhupathi are the only other Indians to achieve No. 1 rankings in tennis when they dominated men’s doubles in the late 1990s.