Top-seeded Angelique Kerber won her first WTA title of the season and third overall by defeating two-time former champion Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 7-6 (6) at the Generali Ladies on Sunday.
It was Kerber’s third final of the year after losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in Monterrey in April and to Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic in Tokyo two weeks ago. The 10th-ranked German improved her record in finals to 3-5.
"This is an incredible feeling," said Kerber, who qualified for the season-ending WTA Championships by reaching the semifinals this week. "This victory means a lot to me. I will go to the `masters’ with lots of confidence now."
Kerber didn’t initially intend to play in Linz but was given a late wild-card entry to replace Kvitova after the former Wimbledon champion pulled out with a back injury.
The former top-ranked Ivanovic, who won the event in 2008 and ’10, appeared in her first final since winning her 11th career title in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2011.
"It was a real close final," said Kerber, who missed three match points at 5-3 in the second set. "I became a bit twitchy toward the end. My thoughts were elsewhere during these match points. Later I managed to focus on each point again."
Ivanovic battled back from two breaks down to level at 4-4 in the opening set before dropping her serve for a third time.
The third-seeded Serb made another comeback in the second set. After denying Kerber victory at 5-3, she missed two set points while leading 6-5 and two more in the tiebreaker as the German reeled off four straight points to close out the victory.
"I was too passive and didn’t find my rhythm," Ivanovic said. "I got my chances but I couldn’t take them."