MADRID, Spain - Looking as powerful and inspirational as ever, Petra Kvitova pulled off the biggest upset of the year on Friday, beating Serena Williams in a semifinal stunner at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Not only had Williams beaten Kvitova in all five of their previous career meetings, but the American went into the match with a number of gargantuan winning streaks - she'd won 19 straight matches in Madrid, 27 straight matches on the tour and, perhaps most impressive of all, 50 straight matches at Premier Mandatory-level events, a streak that dated all the way back to the Miami Open in 2012.
But this was Kvitova's day - from start to finish she played lights out, ripping her huge serve and groundstrokes into the corners for winner after winner, actually finishing the match with a more-than-impressive +11 differential of winners-to-unforced errors (25 to 14). Meanwhile Williams was clearly rattled by the Czech's form, finishing with a -12 winners-to-unforced errors differential (17 to 29).
There were a few tense moments near the end as Williams started closing in, tightening the score from 6-2, 5-1 to 6-2, 5-3, then going up 30-0 on her serve in the next game, but it was too little too late, and the No.4-seeded Kvitova closed out No.1-seeded Williams after an hour and 13 minutes, 6-2, 6-3.
"For sure I'm happy I won today," Kvitova said in her on-court interview straight afterwards.
"I had never beaten her, so it's a really special moment for me."
Williams was asked to assess the match in her post-match press conference.
"Yeah, I think she just played well today," Williams said. "I mean, she went for broke on every serve, every return. I hit some second serves, 170, 175, and she just hit them for winners. I was very slow off the mark. After my serve I wasn't moving as well as I should have. You know, I wasn't in it.
"I wasn't Serena today. I think that was the main thing."
Awaiting Kvitova in the final is Svetlana Kuznetsova, who pulled off almost as big of a surprise in the first semi, beating No.3 seed and defending champion Maria Sharapova, 6-2, 6-4 (read more here).
Kvitova leads Kuznetsova in their head-to-head, 3-1, though Kuznetsova did win their last meeting.