Kvitova Takes WTA Finals Crown
October 31, 2011
Rising Czech star Petra Kvitova defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the final of the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
The 21-year-old now finds herself second in the Sony Ericcson WTA World Rankings and with a chance to overhaul Caroline Wozniacki as the world’s top player going in to the 2012 Australian Open in January should she have a better warm up to the year’s first slam than the Danish star.
She also adds a cool £1.1m to her bank balance after securing a clean sweep in the round robin stages, without dropping a set, and then beating off both Sam Stosur and Azarenka in the knock-out rounds to get her hands on the trophy.
It completes an amazing 10 months for the girl who started 2011 as the world No.34 as she equalled Wozniacki’s haul of six titles for the year. She can be pleased with her feats after she lifted her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July and she became the first Czech woman since Jana Novotna in 1997 to win the year-ending finals after two hours and 28 minutes.
Kvitova defeated Azarenka in the semis at the All England Club and she began this match with the same power and intensity that had seen her claim victory in that encounter. She broke straight away to take a 2-0 lead, and she was soon 5-0 ahead as her forehand seemed to overpower Azarenka at every opportunity.
But the 22-year-old Belarusian has a reputation as a fighter and a huge swing in momentum made the first set much tighter than it could have been. She pulled the match right back to parity, breaking a dishevelled Kvitova to love in the ninth game along the way. But rather than wilt, Kvitova recovered some composure to seal back to back games and close out the set.
With Kvitova’s serve wavering under pressure, Azarenka continued to attack it, which made the second set a much nervier affair. Three consecutive breaks in games three, four and five saw Azarenka one break ahead and she clung on to that for the remainder of the set to force a decider.
Kvitova somehow managed to hold serve in the first game of the third set under immense Azarenka pressure and she moved 2-0 ahead when the Belarusian somehow contrived to send a forehand long at break point with Kvitova out of position and an open court in front of her.
That one moment seemed to give Kvitova the confidence she was searching for and her serve never looked in danger of being broken again. On match point, Azarenka netted a backhand volley and a jubilant Kvitova collapsed to the floor as her emotions poured from her body.
“It was unbelievable tennis,” said Kvitova, who now prepares to lead her country into the Fed Cup Final against Russia this coming weekend. “We were both really fighting. Every game and every set was very close. Maybe I played better on the important points in the match.
“We both played some of our best here in Istanbul today – it was a final, so why not!”
By Leigh Gruffydd Sanders
[Image courtesy of Christian Mesiano]