Philadelphia, PA – German left-hander Angelique Kerber has quietly been climbing the charts (the WTA World Rankings) the last few years and just recorded arguably the biggest win of her career last week.
The 24-year-old Kerber, seeded second last week, nailed down her second career title, and second championship of the year, by stunning heavy Danish crowd favorite Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in a final in Copenhagen. The top-seeded Wozniacki had been unbeaten at her home event, where she was the reigning two-time champ and a seemingly unstoppable 14-0 heading into a third straight final there.
"It was amazing to play in front of this crowd, even though most of them supported Caroline," Kerber said afterward. "It was a great atmosphere and it was good fun to play. And I felt like I had nothing to lose. If I lost the match, it's OK against her. It made me take more chances and I'm glad it worked out."
Wozniacki is ranked sixth in the world after opening the 2012 campaign at No. 1.
The big win also marked Kerber's fourth victory in her last five matches against Top 10 opponents and prompted German tennis legend Boris Becker to Tweet, "Wow, Kerber gewinnt Kopenhagen gegen Wosniacki (spelling)!"
And Kerber spanked another former No. 1, Jelena Jankovic, 6-2, 6-1 in the Copenhagen semifinals.
The German southpaw is now up to No. 14 in the world, this after starting 2012 at No. 32.
The 5-foot-8, 150-pound Bremen native secured her maiden tour title in Paris back in February, and career title No. 2 came only after she became the first player in seven months to save match point en route to a championship.
"I'm very motivated to continue working hard," Kerber said.
Kerber had never beaten a Top 10 woman before February, but since then she has big wins over former No. 1 Maria Sharapova, French slugger Marion Bartoli, reigning French Open champion Li Na and the former U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki. Her only loss against a Top 10 player during this current stretch came against current world No. 1 and reigning Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka at the BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) semifinals last month.
Note: Indian Wells, along with the Sony Ericcson Open in Miami, serves as one of the biggest tour events outside the four majors.
Kerber, who went 1-0 in Germany's Fed Cup quarterfinal loss against the reigning champion Czech Republic in February, gave way to the aforementioned Sharapova in the third round at this year's Aussie Open before avenging that setback in a quarterfinal in Paris less than a month later.
Paris, of course, would result in a title for the rising German.
AK really started to make some noise on the circuit last year by reaching her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open in September. She lost to eventual champion Sam Stosur in three sets in the final four, but the foundation for a quality 2012 may have been in place.
Kerber has reached at least the semifinals in five of her eight tournaments this season while going 23-6 for the year. In my estimation, the stealth-like German has been one of the four-best performers in 2012.
There's no Steffi Graf, to be sure, in the current mix of the top German women, but the proud tennis nation currently boasts four of the top 16 players in the world in No. 11 Andrea Petkovic, No. 13 Sabine Lisicki, Kerber and No. 16 Julia Goerges.
No other country can make that claim right now.
Will Kerber reside inside the Top 10 in the coming weeks?