WUHAN, China - Following two contrasting semifinals, Petra Kvitova and Dominika Cibulkova will renew acquaintances with the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open on the line. Here are 10 of SAP's finest facts ahead of Saturday's showdownl.
1) An old rivalry revisited.
Due to fitness problems and the whims of the draw, Kvitova and Cibulkova have not locked horns on court for two and a half years. Kvitova held the early edge in their clashes, racking up four wins in 2011. However, since the Czech's annus mirabilis, Cibulkova reduced her arrears with comfortable victories in 2013 (Sydney) and 2014 (Indian Wells).
2) Cibulkova the comeback queen.
Cibulkova had a number of false dawns following her return from a serious Achilles injury last year. This March in Katowice she finally returned to the winner's circle, and followed this up with a maiden Premier Mandatory final, in Madrid, and then further silverware, this time on the Eastbourne grass. She has now won 44 matches since the turn of the year - a number only bettered by World No.1 Angelique Kerber.
3) But Kvitova holds a decided edge in big-match experience.
Kvitova has won Wimbledon (in 2011 and 2014), the WTA Finals (2011), and five titles at Premier Mandatory or Premier 5 tournaments. For all her career accomplishments, Cibulkova's biggest titles have all come at the next rung down, at the Premier events in Moscow (2011), Carlsbad (2012), Stanford (2012) and Eastbourne (2016). She has come close to breaking through this ceiling, though, reaching Grand Slam (Australian Open, 2014), Premier Mandatory (Madrid, 2016) and Premier 5 (Montréal, 2008) finals.
4) Cibulkova the marathon woman.
Despite skittling over No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova in the third round, Cibulkova has endured an arduous journey to the final. She was extended to three sets in her other four matches - two of which took place on the same day - spending a total of 10 hours and 39 minutes on court. Kvitova, meanwhile, has dropped just the one set, spending seven hours and four minutes on court. Three hours and 19 minutes of this total was spent in the company of top seed Kerber during their third-round classic.
5) Also doing it the hard way.
Cibulkova is the fifth Top 20 player Kvitova has faced this week. The exception was first-round foe Jelena Ostapenko - a player Kvitova had lost to twice already this year.
6) Keeper of the streak.
Kvitova has won at least one tournament every year since 2011. However, this campaign has been a relatively barren one - so much so that Saturday will be her first final. Can she keep her title streak going?
7) Wuhan is having a significant impact on the Road To Singapore leaderboard.
Cibulkova, who has never previously qualified for the WTA Finals, came into Wuhan at No.7 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard and can rise to No.6 with victory in the final. Kvitova will need to follow up her Wuhan return to form with another good run in Beijing if she is to have a chance of cracking the Top 8.
8) Kvitova boom or bust in China.
Kvitova has tasted plenty of success in China; in addition to the 2014 Wuhan title, she has been a finalist (2014) and semifinalist (2013) in Beijing, and a semifinalist in Shenzhen (2015). On her other six appearances, though, success has been rather thin on the ground, bringing just four wins and a string of early exits.
9) Cibulkova will return to Top 10 again after this.
The former No.10 is projected to rise from No.12 to No.8 by reaching the final and No.7 by winning the title. In February she was ranked as low as No.66. Kvitova, meanwhile, is guaranteed to climb to No.13, and No.11 should she lift the trophy.
10) Kvitova serving notice.
Kvitova's progress has been helped by some particularly potent serving. In five matches she has fired 26 aces and won a mightily impressive 88.8% of her service games - her 2016 average going into the tournament was 74.2%.