Azarenka Secures No.4, Plays Kvitova In Final
Published May 07, 2011 12:00
MADRID, Spain - Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova continued their runs at one of the biggest tournaments on the WTA calendar on Saturday, storming past their semifinal opponents and into the final of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Azarenka, the No.4 seed, was the first to advance, toughing out a 47-minute first set then cruising through a 31-minute second set to beat Julia Goerges, 64 62. Azarenka finished strong, winning the last 10 points of the match.
"I came very motivated to play this match and show my best tennis," Azarenka said. "I had to be the one dominating the game and not her, because she has really big shots and when she goes for it it's tough to see where she's hitting."
Azarenka has not only won 19 of her last 21 matches now - and both losses were injury retirements, including one against Goerges - but by virtue of reaching the final she has secured a rise from No.5 to No.4, which will make her the highest-ranked Belarusian in WTA history (Natasha Zvereva made it to No.5).
Goerges, who beat No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki en route to the semis, will crack the Top 20. With Andrea Petkovic already there, it will be the first time since 1999 two Germans will be in the Top 20 (Steffi Graf and Anke Huber).
Kvitova, the No.16 seed, followed her 61 64 third round stunner over No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva with another dominating performance against a Top 8 seed, scoring a comprehensive 69-minute, 63 61 win over No.6 seed Li Na.
"I knew I had to dominate because Li plays hard and fast. I had to get on the offensive first," Kvitova said after the match. "I didn't used to think clay was a good surface for me but here it's faster and that's good for my game."
A day earlier, by virtue of reaching the semifinals, Kvitova assured herself of a rise from her current No.18 to No.10 on the rankings next week, making her the sixth Czech player ever to crack the Top 10 (after Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova, Helena Sukova, Jana Novotna and Nicole Vaidisova).
"Yesterday I knew if I won I'd be in the Top 10. It's good but it's only a number and I still want to get better and better," Kvitova said. "When I was young, I was inspired by Martina Navratilova. She was Czech, played very offensive tennis and had very good volleys. She was also left-handed. She was a star."
Li could have risen from No.6 to No.5 by winning this title, which would have been her Top 5 debut. She is already China's only Top 10 player in WTA history.
Azarenka leads Kvitova in their head-to-head series, 2-1. Azarenka won their first two matches in straight sets, but in their last meeting it was Kvitova who prevailed, winning 10 straight games from 5-3 down in the first set to upset the Belarusian in the third round of Wimbledon last summer, 75 60.
"I take it as another match," Azarenka said. "It's going to be my last match here and I'm looking forward to it. She's a great player and I'm really motivated."
"I beat her the last time we played, so I'll try my best and we'll see what happens," Kvitova said. "Victoria is playing very well and is very aggressive."