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(Reuters) - Germany's Angelique Kerber defeated American Madison Keys 6-2 4-6 7-5 in an enthralling final of the Family Circle Cup at Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday.
Kerber's fourth career win will see her rise from her current position of 16th in the world rankings after what overall had been a disappointing season.
But the German looked to have her trademark defensive game back in full effect and she was relentless against Keys in the grueling battle.
Keys, who beat Kerber in the Eastbourne final last year, looked nervous and out-of-sorts as she was broken three times in the first set.
But the 20-year-old from Illinois battled back in the second, breaking to win the set after a series of serves where Kerber pushed her all the way.
Keys, confidence fully restored, then broke out to a 4-1 lead in the third set, but Kerber won six of the next seven games, breaking to go 6-5 up and then serving out to love to secure the championship.
"I feel great. Madison is a great player and she played very well today so I think both of us are champions," said the 27-year-old Kerber, who beat compatriot Andrea Petkovic in the semi-final.
Kerber suffered early round exits to lower ranked players in Indian Wells and Miami after a first round exit in the Australian Open.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Gene Cherry