MONTRÉAL, Canada - They both made big statements by reaching the final but only one would make the biggest statement, and it was Petra Kvitova who did that, edging Li Na for her first WTA title of the year at the Rogers Cup.
In fact Kvitova and Li were both after their first WTA titles of the year, and things couldn't have been closer on the day. The No.5-seeded Kvitova needed more than an hour and five set points to take the first set, and after the No.10-seeded Li blazed through the second set in just 32 minutes, Kvitova got the only break of the third set and held serve the rest of the way en route to a 75 26 63 win.
"The first set was a really big fight - every game was very close. Maybe I was a little bit lucky to win the first set," Kvitova said after the match. "She played very well in the second set. She was very aggressive without any mistakes."
Li won the first four games of the second set at love - 16 points in a row.
"I didn't really realize - but that was really good tennis from her," Kvitova said. "Between the second and third sets, when I was in the locker room changing my clothes, I knew I had to be the first one to attack the balls and play much faster than in the second set. I also needed a higher first serve percentage."
Kvitova broke a lot of patterns in Montréal: she hadn't been to a WTA final all year (her best results being four semifinals); she hadn't beaten a Top 10 player all year (she was 0-5 against them coming in but turned it around with wins over Marion Bartoli and Caroline Wozniacki earlier in the week); and, perhaps most interestingly, she had never even been to a WTA final in North America.
"I have asthma so I have trouble breathing sometimes, but it wasn't too humid here this week," Kvitova said of that last stat. "It's only a problem in North America, unfortunately, because here it's more humid than Europe or Australia, where it's very hot but not that humid. Humidity is the main problem for me.
"But it's great to know I can play well here and it's great I finally won a title this year. I'm so glad it could be here at the Rogers Cup in Montréal."
And what will she do with the Rogers Cup trophy? "I think my parents will find a good place for this beautiful trophy," the Czech said. "She's quite heavy!"
Kvitova now has eight WTA titles to her name - one in 2009, six from her absolute breakthrough season in 2011, and now her first one of 2012.
Li fell to 0-3 in WTA finals this year, but they were all at very big ones - Sydney, Rome and now Montréal - and she now moves back into the Top 10, too.
"I really have to say she played very well today. I think we both played a very good match," Li said of Kvitova. "I'm very happy because this was the first hardcourt tournament after the Olympics, and my new coach is going to come to Cincinnati, so I think this is a very good start to this season for me."