Kerber upsets Serena to win Australian title

Getty Images

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Angelique Kerber upset Serena Williams 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win the Australian Open title on Saturday, ending the six-time champion’s unbeaten streak in finals here and winning a major title for the first time.

Williams was an overwhelming favorite at Melbourne Park, where she had won all six previous times she’d reached the final, and was trying to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

For the second time in as many majors, though, she fell short. Williams won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles last year before losing to Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals. She was so close to a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2015, but now has no chance to push for that honor in 2016 after losing the first major of the year.

The 34-year-old Williams hadn’t lost a set in the first six rounds at Melbourne Park until dropping the first against No. 7-seeded Kerber, who was playing in her first major final.

Kerber had only ever beaten Williams once – in 2012 – in six career meetings, and was coming off a shaky start to the tournament when she had to save a match point in her first-round win over Misaki Doi.

She lost in the first round last year here and said again she was “one leg in the plane for Germany” against Doi. Now she’s the first German woman to win the Australian title since Graf in 1994.

Despite a rash of uncharacteristic unforced errors, Williams made Kerber push all the way.

The 28-year-old Kerber had a chance to serve for the match at 5-3 in the third, but Williams broke back.

Williams couldn’t hold in the next game, though, and hit a forehand volley long on championship point, her 46th unforced error of the match.

Kerber let her racket fly out of her hand and dropped on her back as the ball landed long. She got up to see Williams walking over to her side of the net, and the pair met at mid-court for a hug.

“Let me be the first to congratulate you,” Williams said in her post-match speech. “Enjoy the moment. I’m so happy for you.”

Told later that she appeared to be as happy about the result as Kerber was, Williams said: “Really, I should get into acting!”

But, she added, “I was really happy for her. She’s been around a long time. She had an attitude that I think a lot of people can learn from – to always stay positive and never give up.

“If I couldn’t win, I’m happy she did.”

Kerber had cried as she walked over to her support team, then back to the center of the court with one arm raised.

At the ceremony, she was all smiles again.

“You are really an inspiration for so many people, so many young tennis players,” Kerber said, paying tribute to Williams in her victory speech. “You created history, you are a champion, you are a really an unbelievably great person, so congratulations for everything you did already.”

Kerber’s previous best performances at a major were semifinal exits at the U.S. Open in 2011 and Wimbledon in 2012. She had only reached the quarterfinals once in the 13 majors leading into 2016.

“My whole life I was working really hard and now I’m here and I can say I’m a Grand Slam champion,” she said. “It sounds really crazy and unbelievable.”

Nishioka beats Shapovalov to win Korean Open

2022 US Open - Day 1
Getty Images

SEOUL, South Korea – Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka claimed his second career title after beating fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 7-6 (5) to win the Korean Open.

The 27-year-old Japanese, who beat top seed and world No.2 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, was impressive in defense and his counter-punching style eventually wore down his higher ranked opponent in just under two hours at the Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Center.

The unseeded Nishioka, appearing in his second championship match this year after reaching the Washington final in August, started the brighter and found his rhythm early to claim the first set.

The second set saw momentum change as Shapavolov found his range from the backcourt to take a 3-1 lead. But Nishioka rallied to take the set into a tiebreak where he held firm to win his first tournament since his maiden title at the Shenzen Open in 2018 – where he also beat Shapovalov in their only previous meeting.

The ATP Tour returned to Seoul for the first time since 1996 after the city was awarded a single-year license to stage the Korean Open.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

Getty Images

PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.