at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Eastbourne, United Kingdom – Madison Keys broke through for the first title of her career as she beat experienced German fifth seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to win the ATP-WTA Eastbourne International on Saturday.
Three years after first stepping onto a grass court, the 19-year-old from Florida became the first American to claim the title at Devonshire Park since Chanda Rubin in 2003.
Kerber saved three match points in the final game as the losing 2012 finalist struggled to stay in the match, but Keys ended those hopes as she earned the victory in just under two hours when Kerber hit the net with her 48th unforced error.
“It's incredible to be able to win here,” said a delighed Keys, who will move into the world's top 30 for the start of Wimbledon on Monday.
“Hopefully there will be many more to come,” added the teenager.
Keys had never before played a final, with a pair of semi-finals at Sydney and Strasbourg her best previous showings of 2014.
She hammered 19 aces, 60 winners and broke twice from 11 chances and the poised teenager said that while she was full of anticipation as she played for a title, it did not affect her game.
“It was a bit surreal playing in my first final, but all morning I tried to stay calm and not over-think it. My hands are still shaking, I'm really excited,” said Keys.
Kerber was playing her 11th final but was unable to add to her four career trophies.
Keys' success came just hours after that of compatriot Coco Vandeweghe, who also won her first title on Saturday after beating China's Zheng Jie at 's-Hertogenbosch. – Sapa-AFP