Angelique Kerber fulfilled her childhood tennis dream as she cemented her new status as WTA number one by winning her second grand slam title of the season on Sunday at the US Open.
Kerber defeated Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to add the New York crown to the one she claimed in January in Melbourne.
Along the way, she played and lost the Wimbledon final to Serena williams, whom she displaced from the top ranking spot after a reign of three and a half years for the veteran American.
Kerber takes over the number one place on Monday.
"This is just amazing," she said. "I've won my second grand slam in the same year. This is the best year of my career.
"This ranking means so much to me. As a kid I was always dreaming of number one. Today is my big day, I'm number one - and it's just amazing. All my dreams are coming true this year.
Kerber credited Pliskova as a "tough opponent" who has made an "amazing" rise in recent months.
"We showed a great final," Kerber said. "I was trying to stay in moment and play my game, trying to enjoy the final."
She claimed the New York title with her WTA-leading 54th win of the season, coming back from a break down in the deciding set.
A year ago, Pliskova exited in the Open first round after losing to a qualifier and winning just a handful of games.
"I learned that I can play my best tennis on the big stage," Pliskova said, three weeks after defeating Kerber for the title in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"We had a great match today. Angie proved that she is the number one. I was honoured to play this match.
"I knew it would be difficult to play, but I found some power in the second set."
Pliskova rallied after dropping the first set on a break in the first game of the afternoon.
"I was happy to take it into a third set, even if I did not get the win," she said. "I've been playing great these past few weeks. Hopefully there are many more finals to come for me."
The 28-year-old Kerber earned the early first-set lead, finishing it off with just three unforced errors in 40 minutes. A nervous Pliskova, playing in her first grand slam final, was run down by the German's big game, committing 16 unforced errors in the first set alone.
Pliskova stood her ground in the second set, using a break in the seventh game to square the contest.
But with the Czech running short on physical reserves in hot, sticky conditions, the ultra-fit Kerber was able to regain control.
The German rallied after going a break down in the third game of the final set, re-breaking for three games each.
Kerber earned three match points four games later and claimed victory on her first after sweeping the final eight points of the contest.
Kerber was the second German to reach the New York final since 1968 and is now the first from her nation to win the title since Steffi Graf won the last of her five US Open trophies in 1996.
Pliskova had never been past the second week of a major and had not lost a set heading into the title match.
Sunday, August 21, 2016 - 07:45
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Saturday, August 20, 2016 - 06:36