Angelique captured her first clay-court title in more than six years after a nail-biting 7-6(5), 6-7(0), 7-6(5) triumph over Kaja Juvan in the Internationaux de Strasbourg final.
In the longest Hologic WTA Tour singles final of the season thus far, three-time Grand Slam champion Kerber took 3 hours and 16 minutes to quell the challenge from World No.81 Juvan, who put up an incredible fight in her first singles final.
No.2 seed Kerber, currently ranked No.22, earned her first title of the season and her 14th title of her career with the closely-contested win. Before this week, the German’s most recent clay-court trophy was a triumph on home soil in Stuttgart in 2016.
Kerber’s revenge: In their only previous meeting, Juvan stunned Kerber on the clay courts at 2020 Roland Garros with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-3 win. 21-year-old Juvan nearly improved to 2-0 against the former top-ranked player as she pushed the match to the limit.
However, Kerber battled through the three tiebreak sets to take home the crown and level their head-to-head at 1-1. The pair were separated by very little throughout the duration, finishing the final with 83 winners and six service breaks apiece.
The victory helps turn around a season with very few victories for Kerber, who had won only two matches in 2022 before arriving in Strasbourg.
Match breakdown: Juvan led 5-2 in the first set and held a set point at 5-4, but Kerber battled back from that deficit as the pair moved into a tiebreak. Kerber saw a 4-1 lead in the breaker disappear when Juvan polished off a volley to reach 4-4, but the former World No.1 used an error-forcing backhand to line up her first set point at 6-5, which she converted with a rally forehand winner.
After the 59-minute first set, an even longer second set took place, spanning 62 minutes. Despite going just 2-for-10 on break points in the set, Juvan was able to get into another tiebreak, where loose errors by Kerber gave the unseeded player a 3-0 lead. Juvan fired confident winners as she swept the remaining points of the tiebreak to tie the match.
After exchanging early breaks, the third set was naturally decided by one final tiebreak. The duo went back and forth until Kerber deployed a winning drop shot to reach double championship point at 6-4. On the second championship point, Kerber executed a stunning passing winner to seal a hard-fought title.