Angelique Kerber produced a stunning upset to beat Serena Williams 6-4 3-6 6-4 in a classic Australian Open final.

The German won a thrilling match to claim her first Grand Slam title and deny Williams a record-equalling 22nd.

Kerber produced some scintillating tennis to claim the first set, but appeared to be on the back foot as Williams roared back to claim the second 6-3.

But it was Kerber to raced into a 5-2 third set lead, before eventually clinching the match by breaking the Williams serve and pull off the biggest shock in women's tennis since Serena's semi-final defeat by Roberta Vinci in last year's US Open semi-finals.

Kerber was in tears as, at the age of 28 and in her first major final, she produced some staggering play as she became the first German since Steffi Graf in 1999 to win a grand slam title. That win 17 years ago is the one that took Graf to the record tally that Serena has still yet to match.

Williams herself could only smile as she warmly hugged and congratulated the winner, knowing full well that she had simply been outplayed by one of the finest performances in a Grand Slam final for years.

Kerber was a 6/1 outsider with bookies before the match, but quickly made that lack of faith in her skills seem unjust as she broke the defending champion in only her second service game.

Serena broke back immediately, leading the world to suspect that normal service would be resumed – but it was Kerber who broke once more, and never looked threatened in the remainder of the opening set.

The second was a different story, Serena breaking early this time and racing into a lead after picking up a break – though signs of trouble were still there as she double faulted at game point while leading 4-2, and was forced to work hard to wrap up the set.

Angelique Kerber upsets Serena Williams to win stunning final

Rather than Serena push on and take charge, however, it was Kerber who seized the initiative: after holding serve easily at the start of the decider, she earned a break point with a simply magnificent display of never-say-die tennis with shotmaking so good that Williams herself could only smile and applaud.

That smile disappeared, however, as Kerber than wrapped up the break.

Serena broke back, but after an epic game that saw five break points to the German, Kerber went another break ahead.

Kerber then followed it up by holding to love – but Serena then broke back as the seventh seed served for the match.

Yet still Serena could not get a grip on a player who was truly inspired: she was pushed to deuce in her very next service game, and with Kerber keeping up the intensity that had taken her so far, she eventually earned a championship point – and grabbed it with both hands at the first time of asking.

Kerber fell to the court in delight and exhaustion, then got up with tears streaming down her face.

Serena, meanwhile, was left to wonder once again – as she did in the US Open semi-finals last September – how she had been outfought and outplayed in a truly magnificent encounter.

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