WTA Best Matches of 2013: 8. Kerber d. Ivanovic (Linz)

Kerber

Kerber d. Ivanovic, 6-4 7-6(6) (Linz, F)

Number eight in my list is the final from Linz between Angelique Kerber and Ana Ivanovic.  The tournament had all kinds of drama surrounding it this year as Kerber was awarded a late wildcard after the draw had already been made.  It was reported that the Austrian player, Lisa-Maria Moser was forced to pull out to make way for Kerber, which saw a major draw reshuffle and many players taking to Twitter to voice their disapproval, including Ivanovic.  It therefore seemed fitting that the final would be between Kerber and Ivanovic.

There are certain match-ups on the WTA tour between players that just click and in my opinion, this is one of them.  I really liked this match because you could tell that both players desperately wanted to win this match.  Kerber hadn’t won a title all year, meanwhile Ivanovic hadn’t been victorious since the season-ending tournament in Bali back in 2011.  This added to the intensity, which made it such a brilliant watch.

The first set was of a very high quality as Kerber raced out into a 4-1* double break lead with some utterly flawless tennis and a series of thunderous down-the-line forehand winners.  Ivanovic wasn’t doing much wrong, but with some return winners and a complete destruction of the Kerber second serve, she fought her way back to 4-4, winning 10 straight points.  However after a lengthy deuce game at 4-4, she forfeited her serve once again and Kerber wrapped up the first set, 6-4.

The second set was one of the most dramatic and momentum swinging sets of tennis I watched all year.  Kerber remained relatively solid throughout, but it was Ivanovic who violently swung from crazy good tennis to crazy bad tennis. Ivanovic started the set in magnificent form to break Kerber to go 2-0 up. She made many ventures into the net and the point at 10:04 in the video below is just magic.  The momentum swings saw Ivanovic go up a break twice and then promptly lose the plot as Kerber conjured up 3 match points at 6-3 5-4 40-0*.  Kerber then tightened up, Ivanovic started swinging freely again and saved all three match points with stunning winners.  Ivanovic managed to calm down and even worked her way to set points, but the match ebbed to a second set tiebreak.

The tiebreak was a reflection of the whole second set with both squandering leads; Ivanovic had 2 more set points, but wasted them both before Kerber then took advantage of her next match point to win her only title of 2013  For me, this was one of the most intense matches I watched all year and there were some sensational winners on show.  Kerber ended the season playing much more aggressively and for that reason, had much better results.  Ivanovic has all the weapons in her locker, but she needs to sort her head out if she has any chance of cracking the top 10 again in the future.

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