Kvitova Stuns Clijsters, Wins Paris
Published February 13, 2011 12:00
PARIS, France - Showing that a world-beating Czech lefty isn't just a one-time occurrence, Petra Kvitova stormed to her biggest WTA title yet on Sunday afternoon, upsetting Kim Clijsters in the final of the Open GDF SUEZ, 64 63.
Kvitova, the No.4 seed, had barely made it into the final this week, rallying from a match point down against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the second round and clawing out of a 5-3 third set deficit against Yanina Wickmayer in the quarterfinals, too; but once she cleared those hurdles there was no stopping her, as she crushed Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the semifinals, 62 60, and scored the straight set win over No.1 seed Clijsters for her first Premier title.
"I'm very happy to win my second title of the year, and it doesn't get much better than beating the new No.1 in the final," Kvitova said. "I thought I played very well. I played my game, fast and aggressive, as I couldn't let her dominate. It's very special to defeat Kim in the final. I'd like to thank my team and I would like to dedicate this victory to my grandfather, who passed away last week."
Clijsters, No.2 this week but rising to No.1 on Monday by virtue of passing the quarterfinals here, was in good form but couldn't fend off the extreme aggression from Kvitova, who had lost to Clijsters handily in both previous meetings. The 20-year-old Czech was unrelenting on her service games, firing 10 aces throughout the match; she was also dangerous on the return, breaking serve five times.
In the end, Kvitova won her third career WTA title, having taken International-level titles at Hobart in 2009 and Brisbane early this season. She is now 3-1 in finals (she was runner-up at Linz in 2009, losing to Wickmayer in the final).
Clijsters, who had won her last 12 matches in a row (a stretch that included her Australian Open title run), is now 41-19 in career finals on the WTA. She will rise to No.1 on Monday, her 20th career week at the top of the rankings, but first in almost five years (her last stint there ended in March 2006).
"My opponent was just better today," Clijsters said. "I couldn't play my best because she put so much pressure on me. I had to go for it because if I put it in her hitting zone, she was dominating. If she continues to play like that, she will be Top 10 before long. She is so much fitter and moves better than last year."
In the doubles final, No.3 seeds Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy chalked one up for the US, scoring a 64 62 win over Russians Vera Dushevina and Ekaterina Makarova. It was their first title together; individually Mattek-Sands won her ninth WTA doubles title, Shaughnessy her 17th.
"We've had a great year so far and it's great to win our first title together," Mattek-Sands told the crowd after the final. "Meghann was clutch today. I was a little tired so thanks to her for carrying me through. I'd like to thank the crowd for their support throughout the week, I really appreciate it."