Playing her first tournament since her departure from Wimbledon because of equilibrium problems, the top-ranked and top-seeded Williams won the hard-court event for the third time.
Kerber, 0-4 in finals this season, won five straight games to go up 5-1 and was serving for the first set at 5-2. Williams saved two set points and went to win five games in a row.
“I blinked my eye and I was down 1-5,” Williams said. “Angelique was playing well and I thought ‘What’s going on?’ I tried to relax, not think about anything and just do the right thing.”
The eighth-ranked Kerber forced a tiebreaker, but Williams took the first five points.
“It’s a good thing that it happened,” Williams said. “When I’m not playing great I know I can make some kind of comeback.”
|Serena Williams holds up the trophy after beating Angelique Kerber in the finals of the Bank of the West Classic on Sunday. (AFP-Yonhap)|
Williams didn’t play well in any of the first sets this week but always found a way to win.
“I’ve been training hard all year and hopefully that pays off, especially after Wimbledon,” Williams said. “I stayed positive here. This shows I’m moving in the right direction.”
Questions were raised after she retired from a doubles match with sister Venus at Wimbledon in June. A viral infection affected her equilibrium.
She answered those questions with an exclamation point Sunday. “Every week is a new week and all I can do is try and improve,” Williams said. “For me it’s all mental: being there, being positive and being good to myself.”
Williams has beaten the left-handed Kerber four straight times and five of six overall. All of their matches have been in straight sets.
“I gave everything I could out there,” Kerber said. “When she was down she started hitting the ball better. It’s a special thing she has. On the important points, she goes for it.”
Williams will be No. 1 for the 200th week in her career when the rankings are announced Monday. She is fifth on the career list, nine weeks behind fourth-place Martina Hingis.
WASHINGTON (AP) ― Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia ended her four-year WTA title drought Sunday, beating Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the Citi Open.
At 4-4 in the final set, with Kuznetsova serving, they played the longest game of the match, with 16 points, five deuces and one break point. Kuznetsova eventually held, then broke Nara in the next game to end it.
Nara said she “tried (to) focus again” when serving to stay in the match down 5-4, but Kuznetsova would not allow her to play as aggressively as she wanted.
“She hit a very heavy ball, so I cannot go very (easily) into the court,” Nara said.
It was the 14th tournament victory for the 29-year-old Kuznetsova, but her first since she won at San Diego in August 2010. Her collection includes trophies from the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open.
Kuznetsova, who was seeded sixth and ranked 26th, had never played in Washington’s hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open.
The unseeded Nara was bidding for her second singles title of 2014.
She also was the runner-up in doubles at the Citi Open. “I like Washington,” Nara said. “Hopefully, I (will) come back next hear. I like U.S. hard courts.”