Top-seeded Angelique Kerber won her first title of the season and third overall on Sunday by defeating two-time winner Ana Ivanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) at the Linz tennis tournament in Austria.


It was Kerber’s third final of the year after losing to Russia Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Monterrey in April and Czech Petra Kvitova 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 semi-finals 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 wildcard entry to replace Kvitova after the Wimbledon winner 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 at Bali in Indonesia in late 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.

“I was too passive and didn’t find my rhythm,” Ivanovic said. “I got my chances but I couldn’t take them.”