Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber has clinched her first title on clay since 2016 after a tense 7-6(5), 6-7(0), 7-6(5) triumph against Kaja Juvan in the Internationaux de Strasbourg final.
In what was the longest WTA final of the season, Kerber needed three hours and 16 minutes to edge past her Slovenian opponent who was competing in the first singles final.
The win marks the former World No. 1’s first title of 2022 and the 14th of her career. Kerber’s most recent title run on clay came more than six years ago on home soil in Stuttgart.
Juvan entered the final with plenty of confidence not only from straight sets victories over Elise Mertens and Karolina Pliskova in the quarter- and semi-finals but also from her head-to-head record with Kerber.
The World No. 81 was triumphant when the pair met back at Roland Garros in 2020 and had all the momentum heading into the third set after not dropping a point in the second set tiebreak.
Kerber, as she has done time and time again throughout her career, battled and found a way in one of the closest WTA contests in recent memory.
Both players finished with 83 winners and six service breaks each, but it was Kerber who came through to level their head-to-head record at 1-1.
Kerber, who had won only two matches in 2022 prior to this week, will now enter the French Open confident and with plenty of match fitness when she takes on Poland’s Magdalena Frech in the first round.
Juvan, who will reach a career-high ranking of World No. 68 from Monday, will meet Russian qualifier Oksana Selekhmeteva in her Roland Garros opener.
Earlier on Saturday Martina Trevisan would drop just three games on her way to the first WTA title of her career in Rabat thanks to a 6-2, 6-1 win over American Claire Liu in one hour and 32 minutes.
Trevisan, 28, is the second first-time champion in 2022, following Anastasia Potapova's title run in Istanbul last month.
The World No. 85 ranked Trevisan halted what was an eight-match win streak for Liu prior to Saturday’s final. Liu was coming off a WTA 125 title in Paris the week before.
Trevisan, who was a quarterfinalist at Roland Garros in 2020, improved her record to 15-10 on the year. The Italian will move to a career-high ranking of World No. 59 next week and Liu will also appreciate a career new career ranking of World No. 75.
Both players will now travel to Paris where Trevisan will take on Briton Harriet Dart in the first-round while Liu meetsNo.24 seed Tamara Zidansek.