Germany’s Angelique Kerber pulled off a stunning victory to win the Australian Open and dash Serena Williams’ hopes of clinching a record-equalling 22nd grand slam title, writes Tom Allnutt.
Completing a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory after two hours and eight minutes to claim her first major title, Kerber lay outstretched in disbelief on Rod Laver Arena, having sealed one of the biggest shocks in Melbourne.
Kerber said she had “one leg on the plane home” when match point down against Misaki Doi in the opening round but now, seven victories later, she is an Australian Open champion.
“When I played here in the first round I had one leg on the plane to Germany and now I’m here,” Kerber said.
“I think I get the second chance and I take my chance.”
It is the first time Williams has lost in eight Australian Open finals and the 21-time major champion was well below-par, making 46 unforced errors, more than double the amount of any of her previous rounds.
“Let me be the first to congratulate you and I hope you enjoy this moment,” Williams said.
Williams came into the match as heavy favourite, having won their past four meetings, but the American endured a nightmare start as 20 unforced errors helped Kerber take a surprise one-set lead.
Williams regained some composure at the start of the second set and Kerber gave her the encouragement she needed, as two double faults gifted the American a break and 3-1 advantage. It was all she needed as she served out with ease to force a decider.
Kerber broke early but Williams recovered immediately to break back for 2-2.
Kerber held and then a mammoth 11-minute game ensued at 3-2 which saw the German seize the break. Kerber held but so did Williams, leaving it to the German to serve for the title at 5-3 but she wavered and now it was Williams serving under pressure as she trailed 5-4.
At deuce, Williams dumped a forehand into the net giving Kerber Championship point, which she converted before dropping. to the floor in stunned disbelief.