Aegon International: Madison Keys secures her first WTA title with win at Eastbourne
Last Updated: 21/06/14 8:53pm
Madison Keys: The American teenager beat Angelique Kerber of Germany in the final at Eastbourne
Madison Keys broke through for the first title of her career after overcoming experienced German fifth seed Angelique Kerber 6-3 3-6 7-5 to win the WTA Eastbourne International on Saturday.
Three years after first stepping onto a grass court, the 19-year-old from Boca Ratoni n Florida became the first American to claim the title at Devonshire Park since Chanda Rubin in 2003.
"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."
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.
"I have always loved grass. To win my first title on grass is just an amazing experience. Hopefully there will be many more to come," added the teenager.
Keys, who ended British No 1 Heather Watson's hopes in the semi-finals, 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.
Lopez beats Gasquet
Spain's Feliciano Lopez retained the men's title with a hard-fought 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 win over top seed Richard Gasquet.
It completed an excellent Wimbledon build-up for Lopez, who was beaten in the final at Queen's Club last weekend by Grigor Dimitrov.
Lopez will also be the final men's champion at Eastbourne, with the tournament reverting to women only next year when the men return to Nottingham.
"It was a big battle, I'm just glad to get through," said Lopez. "Richard plays well on this surface and I really had to work to win.
"But it feels great to back up a title here right before Wimbledon."
Despite losing Gasquet was pleased to be making a start after his injury worries and goes into Wimbledon ready to challenge.
"Of course I'm very disappointed to lose 7-5 in the final (set). You don't win a title every week. So of course it's tough. That's the sport.
"(But) the most important was here to feel no pain, to play 100 per cent," said the world No 14.
"I played many matches here so I think I will be ready for Wimbledon.
"I had a lot of problems with my back, and I'm trying to come back every day. I've worked a lot on my physical condition.
"I will take the positives and I try my best next week again. This win was for him, and next time I hope it will be on my side."