CHARLESTON, SC, USA - Things hadn't been going her way for a while, and for a while it looked like that would continue this week as she was almost out in her first match, but Angelique Kerber just kept battling, and on Sunday she won the equal-biggest title of her career at the Family Circle Cup.
Having started the year in the Top 10, and after a strong first two weeks in Brisbane and Sydney, things went a little bit off the tracks for Kerber, a former World No.5, over the last few months - she came into Charleston having lost six of her last eight matches and was down at No.16 in the world.
And staring down a 4-2 deficit in the third set against Evgeniya Rodina, it looked like the pattern may continue. But life has a funny way of turning things around at the most random of moments - Kerber not only dug her way out of that one, she would storm through her next three matches in straight sets, including a 6-4, 6-4 semifinal win over No.3 seed and defending champion Andrea Petkovic.
The final was another big battle - after cruising through the first set, 6-2, Kerber watched on as WTA Rising Star Madison Keys snuck out the second set, 6-4, and raced out to a 4-1 lead in the third. But again, the No.5-seeded German just kept battling, clawing back to 5-all, getting one last break for 6-5 and ultimately serving it out at love to finally edge the No.7-seeded American, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
Keys was by far the aggressor in the match, hitting a whopping 49 winners to Kerber's 17, but on clay it's sometimes all about keeping the errors down, and Kerber's winners-to-unforced errors differential was just too good - the German finished with -4 (17 to 21) while the American was -8 (49 to 57).
"It's unbelievable," Kerber said. "To win here after the really difficult weeks I had, I'm feeling great. Last year I had four finals and I didn't win any of them, so it's great that I actually won this one today.
"It's just been a great week for me here. Everybody is so nice, and I'm really happy about my game."
The Family Circle Cup is Kerber's fourth WTA title, and second at the Premier level - she also won Paris [Indoors] in 2012. Her other two came at Internationals - Copenhagen in 2012 and Linz in 2013.
It was still a great week for Keys, though - previously known for her success on fast courts, like winning Eastbourne last year and the Aussie Open semis this year, she now proven she's a threat on clay.
"As geeky as it sounds, attitude is really important on clay," Keys said. "You have to be positive about it. You have to just play your game, but make the minor adjustments you need to make for clay.
"Coming off tough losses at Indian Wells and Miami, I'm happy I kept a great attitude this week, and I was just fighting as hard as I could today. I could have gone either way after the first set, but I dug deep and still put myself in a position to win. But she just wasn't making any mistakes at the end."
? WTA (@WTA) April 12, 2015