As Bad Homburg Proves, Kerber Still Has The Right Stuff To Win Titles

Angelique Kerber (photo: Bad Homburg Open, Paul Zimmer/Daniel Maurer)

BAD HOMBURG/WASHINGTON, June 26, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

It’s been a homecoming week for Angelique Kerber in Bad Homburg, Germany. In a tournament in which she’s been both the star attraction on grass in this Wimbledon tune-up event and its ambassador off the court, it seems fitting that she would play for the singles title in the augural WTA 250-series Bad Homburg Open presented by Engel & Völkers in this central German town known for its mineral springs and spa.

It seemed even more fitting that the World No. 28. Kerber would win another title on grass, which she did with her 6-3, 6-2 victory in an hour and 24 minutes over No. 76 Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic on Saturday afternoon.

🇩🇪 Home court advantage 🇩🇪@AngeliqueKerber secures the @badhomburgopen title with a straight-sets win over Siniakova!

Kerber’s last title came three years ago when she lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish after winning the Wimbledon Championships in 2018. She also won on grass in Birmingham, England, in 2015. Kerber and grass have enjoyed a good relationship over the years.

The Bad Homburg triumph was the 33-year-old Kerber’s 75th win on grass, the third most among active players behind Serena Williams and Venus Williams. Kerber’s title was also the third that she’s won in her home country, following back-to-back titles in Stuttgart in 2015-16.

After the three-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Kerber’s three-set comeback win over World No. 12 and top seed Petra Kvitova in Friday evening’s semifinals, which followed another comeback victory over Amanda Anisimova in the quarterfinals earlier in the day, she spoke about what it meant for her to eke out an important win that advanced her to the final – especially in front of a home crowd that filled TC Bad Homburg Centre Court and cheered wildly for her.

“I was really fighting until the end, and I was trying to believe that I can win the match and turn around the third set,” said Kerber of her 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) triumph over Kvitova, like her a former Wimbledon champion. “Of course, the crowd, when you play at home, the atmosphere is amazing.

“I think it was also important for me to win a match like this, against Petra, because the last few months, I’ve lost really tight matches. The match against Petra shows me that I’m still able to win matches like this.”

On Saturday, the 2018 Wimbledon titlist Kerber arrived on a sunny Centre Court attempting to win a 13th WTA singles title in her 31st career final – and carrying forth the momentum from Friday’s big victory. It was Kerber’s first final since Eastbourne in 2019, also on grass. After beating one Czech, she faced another in the unseeded Siniakova, who reached the final after having already beaten three seeded players earlier in the week.

“I’ve never been in a final on grass courts, so I was really fighting the grass,” Siniakova said after a pair of wins on Friday that advanced her to the title match. “But I think I can suit my game to the grass. So, I’m really happy that I won four matches and I’m in the final.”

Indeed, throughout her run to the final, Siniakova used her volleying skills from playing doubles to her advantage. Early on in the title match, she hit some volley winners and played an attacking style that benefited her. However, Kerber made some adjustments and went on the attack herself, breaking Siniakova in three consecutive service games for a 5-3 advantage. Then, the German fought off three break points and held serve to win the 43-minute opening set.

Kerber got an early second-set break and consolidated it for a 2-0 lead, but Siniakova showed her resilience in holding serve with a backhand winner after saving three break points. She got the break back to level the set at 2-all, but was soon broken by Kerber for the fifth time. Then, Kerber fought through five deuces and saved two break points in a 16-point game to maintain her break lead at 4-2.

Immediately, Kerber kept the pressure on Siniakova by gaining a break point at love and converted the break-point opportunity when the Czech netted an easy backhand near the net to take an insurmountable 5-2 lead with the championship resting on her racquet in the next game. She would not let herself or her German fans down.

With a full house applauding every point by the No. 4 seed, Kerber rose to the occasion and made all the right moves. She continued attacking on her groundstrokes to the very end. On her third match-point opportunity, Kerber wrapped up her polished performance, in which she won the final four games, for her first title victory in three years after Siniakova netted the sixth shot of the final rally of the tournament. It was Kerber’s fifth career win against Siniakova in six career meetings.

Kerber outpointed Siniakova 80-60, hitting 13 winners along the way, converting six of 13 break-point chances and taking advantage of her opponent’s 38 unforced errors.

“This win means a lot to me. Winning a tournament after such a long time is a great feeling and gives me confidence going into Wimbledon,” Kerber said. “It was a very intensive week. I played good tennis and enjoyed the fantastic atmosphere here at the club. It couldn’t have gone any better. To play the tournament in front of fans was the biggest motivation for me.”

Next, Kerber heads for Wimbledon, where lifetime she’s 31–11. Awaiting will be memories of her 2018 title as well as reaching the finals in 2016 and a semifinal run in 2012. Her first-round opponent will be Nina Stojanovic, the 86th-ranked Serbian.

First, though, there will be a time for Kerber to celebrate. After the final point was completed, the German No. 1 raised her arms in victory and blew kisses to the appreciative crowd. With the start of Wimbledon just two days away, Kerber’s victory on grass served as reminder that she still has the right stuff to win titles.

No. 1 seeds Jurak and Klepac win doubles title

Top-seeded Darija Jurak of Croatia and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia won the Bad Homburg doubles title with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 2 seeds Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine and Raluca-Ioana Olaru of Romania. Jurak and Klepac won the 65-minute final by outpointing their opponents 54-37.