MOSCOW, Russia -- The fourth time was the charm for Julia Goerges this season.
After three unsuccessful finals earlier in the year, the German claimed her first singles title of 2017 at the VTB Kremlin Cup on Saturday, dispatching Russian hope Daria Kasatkina, 6-1, 6-2. Goerges captured the third singles title of her career, and her first in over six years.
Goerges was overcome with tears of joy after the victory, which she sealed with her fourth ace of the match. "It just feels amazing," she said during her on-court interview. "It’s been six years now, and I’ve been working hard for this moment here, and I’m just so happy and so emotional now. And at the same time, it means a lot that I can share this moment with Dasha."
With the victory, the World No.27 will re-enter the Top 20 next week, which will also qualify her for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai. She also hit four aces during the match, making her only the third player ever to serve over 400 aces during a single season since 2008.
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Goerges will also move into position as the top-ranked German player on Monday, displacing Angelique Kerber, who has held that spot since May 14, 2012 -- 284 consecutive weeks.
Goerges put on a clinical display in the first set, utilizing her powerful forehand to race to a huge early lead. The German broke Kasatkina for 2-0 with a forehand winner on break point, and assumed a double-break advantage at 4-0 when another strong forehand forced an error.
After Goerges held to win her fifth consecutive game, World No.28 Kasatkina had a quick consultation with her coach, and was able to use that advice to quickly hold her service and get on the board for 5-1.
But the seventh seed would not be denied a one-set lead, smoothly closing the opener out after another fine serve went unreturned. Goerges finished the first set with an astounding 15 winners in just seven games, and minimized her miscues with only four unforced errors.
The initial stages of the second set were closely contested. Kasatkina held for 1-0, and then finally had chances on Goerges' previously impenetrable service, seeing three break points to try to leap to a 2-0 lead. But Goerges fended those off with more sterling aggressive play to hold for 1-1.
From there, the German had no further trouble on serve, as those three break points were the only ones she would face in the match. After that steely performance, Goerges broke Kasatkina for a 2-1 lead off of a brilliant forehand approach that the Russian could not put back in play.
Staring down a 6-1, 4-2 deficit, Kasatkina gave her best effort to extend the match as far as she could, serving an ace to bring up double game point. But Goerges hit two return winners to bring the game to deuce, and eventually took the game and a two-break lead, setting up a chance to serve for the title.
A wide backhand service return by Kasatkina provided two championship points to Goerges, and she only needed one, when a final ace gave Goerges a long-awaited third WTA singles title. Goerges finished the tour de force performance with 33 winners, and won 90 percent of the points on her first serve.
"It’s not just about playing well here, it’s about the whole atmosphere," Goerges, a Moscow semifinalist last year, told the Russian crowd in her post-match interview. "It’s just about everything here. You guys are very friendly and very respectful, that’s what I appreciate, and that’s why I’m enjoying it so much here."