Kvitova Beats Stosur, Shades Of 2004...
Published October 29, 2011 12:00
ISTANBUL, Turkey - It had been seven years since a player reached the final of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships on her debut, but on the heels of such a breakthrough season, it only made sense Petra Kvitova would be the one to pull it off again. The Czech - who started the year outside the Top 30 but is now No.3 with a bullet - battled past Sam Stosur on Saturday and is now one win away from the trophy at the prestigious $4.9-million tournament.
Kvitova was the only player to make it through the round robin undefeated, even without losing a set, but she showed some cracks in her last match on Friday, falling behind 5-1 in the first set before rallying to beat Agnieszka Radwanska in straights. And although she was up an early break she had somewhat of a slowish start again against a confident Stosur, who came back to take the first set and eventually build a 75 10 lead, with a break point to go up 75 20.
Just like she did before, though, Kvitova found her range when she needed to, winning six of the next eight games to take the second set, 6-3, then racing ahead 5-0 in the third. Stosur made things exciting at the end by winning three straight games to close the gap to 5-3, but the Wimbledon champion held on, closing out the US Open champion with an emphatic love hold, 57 63 63.
"Sam was serving very well today, so it was key I was able to break her in the second and third sets," Kvitova said. "It was getting very tough at the end. I had 5-0 and then she was playing very fast, hitting many winners. It was getting tough to concentrate on my service games. You never know what will happen when you play against top players. But I served great the last game."
Both Kvitova and Stosur finished with clean winners-to-errors differentials (Kvitova 38-39, Stosur 16-18) but the biggest difference came in creating break point opportunities - Kvitova brought up 11 break points (converting on five of them) while Stosur only brought up six break points (converting on three).
Kvitova once again thanked the crowd, which has been packed all week. "The stadium was amazing," the Czech added. "Thank you guys for all of your great support for us. I hope you come tomorrow and stick with me again."
The last time a player reached the final of the year-end finale on her debut was in 2004, when Maria Sharapova - also that year's Wimbledon champion - did it. What happened in that final? Sharapova rallied from 4-0 down in the third set to beat Serena Williams and lift one of the biggest trophies of her career.