2012: Breakthrough and Becoming A Top 5 Player
Kerber's first tournament was the 2012 ASB Classic. She defeated Marina Erakovic in the first round; fifth seed Julia Görges in the second round; and the top seed, Sabine Lisicki, in the quarterfinal, when Lisicki retired due to a back injury at a score of 6–4, 4–3. She lost her semifinal match to fourth seeded Flavia Pennetta.
At the 2012 Australian Open, Kerber was the 30th seed. In the first round, she defeated the wildcard local Bojana Bobusic 6–1, 6–3. In the second round she faced Canadian Stéphanie Dubois and defeated her 7–5, 6–1. In third round, she faced fourth seed Maria Sharapova and lost 1–6, 2–6. As a result, Kerber rose to her career high singles ranking of world number 27.
At the 2012 Fed Cup, Kerber played for Germany against the Czech Republic, teaming up along Sabine Lisicki, Julia Görges and Anna-Lena Grönefeld. Her only rubber was a singles match which she played against Lucie Hradecká. She won the tie 6–4, 6–4, producing Germany's only win in the play-off.
Her next tournament was the Open GDF Suez where she was the ninth seed, and where she won her first ever WTA title. In the first round, she faced Lucie Šafářová and won 6–2, 7–6. In the second round, she faced Monica Niculescu and beat her 6–3, 4–6, 6–3. She then played the number one seed Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinal, beating her in straight sets. This set up a semifinal match against the unseeded Yanina Wickmayer. Kerber won to set-up her second ever WTA final. She played second seed Marion Bartoli in the final; Kerber won the first set 7–6 and took an early 3–0 lead in the second. Bartoli came back to level the score at 5–5 and eventually took the set 5–7. Kerber shot off to a 4–0 lead in the third and finished the set with a 6–3 score to close out the match.
She then entered the 2012 Qatar Total Open where she met Sabine Lisicki again, defeating her in the first round with a score of 4–6, 6–4, 6–1. She lost to unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.
Kerber's next tournament was the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Receiving a bye in the first round as the 18th seed, she defeated the young Sloane Stephens in a miraculous comeback from 6–2, 5–1, 40–15 down; facing two match points in winning 2–6, 7–5, 6–4, advancing to the fourth round via default over Vania King, who withdrew, and then produced another win from behind against another dangerous player, Christina McHale, coming back from 4–1 down in the third set and facing match points at 6–5 down to win 6–3, 3–6, 7–6. Kerber upsett eighth seed Li Na in the quarterfinals 6–4, 6–2, before her successful week came to an end, losing to world number one and eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. Her ranking improved to a career high of number 14 as a result of that fantastic run in California. As the 14th seed at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Kerber was expected to do well there, but was upset in her opener (having received a bye in the first round) against Zheng Jie, 6–7, 1–6.
Kerber's next stop was the 2012 e-Boks Open in Copenhagen where she was the second seed. In her opener, she was pushed to the limit as she struggled past Stéphanie Foretz Gacon; she had to grind out two more three-set wins against Anne Keothavong and fellow German Mona Barthel (coming from 5–2 down in third set and saving match points at 5–4 down). After three tough wins, she defeated third seed and former world number one Jelena Janković, 6–2, 6–1, to reach her third career WTA final, and second of the year. She won the title, beating the top seed and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki with a score of 6–4, 6–4.
Kerber represented Germany in Fed Cup against Australia in Stuttgart, losing to world number five Samantha Stosur 6–7, 4–6, in a tough contest, and beating Olivia Rogowska 6–3, 6–3. Germany lost the tie, however, 3–2. At Stuttgart's Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Kerber advanced to the quarterfinals, with wins over Roberta Vinci and sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki, before losing to third seed Petra Kvitová.
Kerber reached the final of the Eastbourne grass court tournament, losing to Tamira Paszek, having served for the championship at 5–3 in the deciding set and missing five match points.
At the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, Kerber was seeded number eight. In the first round she defeated Lucie Hradecká with a score of 6–4, 6–1. In the second round, she defeated the Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7–5, 6–3. She also defeated the number 28 seed Christina McHale 6–2, 6–3. In the fourth round, she won easily against the former world number one Kim Clijsters with an astonishing score of 6–1, 6–1, booking a place in the quarterfinals in just 49 minutes. In the quarterfinal, she beat fellow German and 15th seeded Sabine Lisicki in three sets with a score of 6–3, 6–7, 7–5, having being down 3–5 in the third set. In the semifinal, she lost to number three seed Agnieszka Radwańska.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Kerber was ranked number seven. She beat Petra Cetkovská 6–3, 3–0(r) in the first round, Tímea Babos 6–1, 6–1 in the second round and Venus Williams 7–6, 7–6 in the third round, before losing to number one seed Victoria Azarenka 6–4, 7–5 in the quarterfinal.
Her first tournament of the 2012 US Open Series was the 2012 Rogers Cup, where she lost in the third round to Roberta Vinci. She then played the 2012 Western & Southern Open, beating Tímea Babos in the second round and Andrea Hlaváčková in the third round. In the quarterfinal, Kerber beat Serena Williams for the first time, winning 6–4, 6–4. This snapped Williams' 19-match winning streak. Kerber then defeated Petra Kvitová in her semifinal. However, she fell to Li Na in the final in three sets. At the US Open, Kerber, seeded sixth, struggled to victory over unseeded Venus Williams in a 6–2, 5–7, 7–5 in the second round. She lost in the fourth round 6–7, 3–6 to Sara Errani, the number ten seed from Italy.
Kerber's next tournament after the US Open was the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. She made it to the semifinals before losing to Agnieszka Radwańska. At the China Open, she was seeded sixth and made it to the quarterfinals but was forced to retire against Maria Sharapova due to a foot injury.
At the season's conclusion, Kerber competed in her first year-end championships, where she was seeded fifth. She exited the tournament in the round robin stage.
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