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Angelique Kerber wins Open GDF Suez

PARIS -- Angelique Kerber won her first WTA title Sunday by overpowering second-seeded Marion Bartoli 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-3 in the Open GDF Suez final.

Kerber became the first German to win the Paris tournament since Steffi Graf in 1995, clinching victory with a forehand winner.

"I knew I had nothing to lose," Kerber said. "She was the favorite today."

After a first set with four service breaks, Kerber capitalized on an unforced error from Bartoli to take a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker. She clinched the opening set when the Frenchwoman's backhand sailed long.

Kerber then whipped a forehand cross-court winner to break for a 2-0 lead in the next set. But the U.S. Open semifinalist failed to serve out the match at 5-3, and Bartoli won five straight games to even the match with an ace.

"I got a little bit nervous," Kerber said about being 5-2 up in the second set.

Kerber jumped to a 4-0 lead in the final set. Bartoli saved four match points at 5-2 but Kerber converted her fifth match point in the next game.

"I made a few tactical mistakes in the beginning of the third set that cost me," Bartoli said. "I lost the match in those first four games."

Kerber beat top-10 players for the first time in her career this week. As well as edging the 7th-ranked Bartoli, she also ousted third-ranked Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals Friday.

"That means a lot to me," Kerber said. "Now I believe in me and I know that I can play with them."

Kerber said things clicked for her when she reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open last year.

"From that moment, I was feeling without pressure," Kerber said. "I began to believe in me and in my game. I'm for sure a little bit stronger mentally. I'm a little bit fitter than one year ago."

Bartoli was in tears at the trophy presentation.

"Physically, it was extremely intense," Bartoli said. "I really dug deep to rally. I consumed so much energy and adrenaline that I just let everything go after the match."