Take a look back at the China Open final between Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova, but this time from a statistical perspective, all courtesy of Craig O'Shannessy and SAP.
WTA Staff

This was always going to be a match where the winner would ultimately be the player who could limit the amount of errors from the back of the court.

Maria Sharapova defeated Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, in the final of the China Open, where winners were plenty, but reducing baseline errors was the real battleground.

Kvitova nailed 25 winners to Sharapova's 18 for the match, including 12 off the forehand wing, but that was almost going to be a "given" with the Czech's aggressive game style. What hurt Kvitova the most was the 44 unforced errors to Sharapova's 29, as the Russian played excellent defense and was simply better at putting the ball in the court with the match on the line.

The flip side of Kvitova's big game is the propensity to go for too much too often, and 46 forehand errors (34 groundstroke / 12 return) proved too big of a mountain to climb.

Kvitova's good run of recent form, including winning the Wuhan title the previous week, ultimately caught up to her, and fatigue played a part in the hard-hitting final, which lasted almost two and a half hours.

"Yeah, I was tired, but it was a final, and every time I'm playing a final, I'm giving everything I have inside," Kvitova said.

Sharapova's tactics of stretching Kvitova wide to the side of the court to extract errors worked perfectly in the opening set, with Kvitova making 17 forehand errors to Sharapova's six.

With Sharapova leading 5-4 in the opening set, Kvitova had made more than double the amount of unforced errors than Sharapova, with 15 to the Russian's seven.

Kvitova jumped out to an early lead in the match by breaking Sharapova in the opening game, but was broken back for 3-3 a few games later. Kvitova made four forehand errors to be broken, not quite getting behind the ball correctly enough, and going for too much offense when she was actually on defense.

With fresher legs earlier in the tournament, Kvitova was probably used to making those shots, but they became so much tougher in the pressure-cooker of a final against an opponent who was not giving an inch.

Sharapova broke Kvitova again with the Czech serving at 4-5 in the opening set, with more looseness creeping in. Kvitova led 30-15 in that game, but double faulted and missed two backhands to lose the opening set.

Kvitova dialed in her game in the second set, breaking Sharapova at 1-1 by attacking the net and rushing the Russian's forehand. Kvitova then broke Sharapova to love for a 4-1 lead and was in the middle of her hot streak for the match. At this stage of the match Kvitova had 16 winners to Sharapova's nine, including four backhand winners to zero. It was simply a matter if she could keep it up.

Kvitova only made nine unforced errors in the second set, but that would double to 18 in the deciding set as Sharapova looked sharper, fresher and more determined to take the title.

Sharapova broke Kvitova for 2-0 in the third set by employing the same successful tactic she had used all match - running Kvitova hard to the ad court to hit a running forehand. This one never made it back over the net, and Sharapova had the break she desperately desired.

Kvitova did break back for 2-3, but she was immediately broken back in the next game, double faulting on the opening point and being heavily attacked deep in the forehand corner by the Russian. Sharapova held to love serving at 5-3, forcing two forehand errors and two backhand return errors from Kvitova.

Sharapova played a smart match tactically, and with no points to defend until the end of the year, has found excellent form at the right time to make a major push back to No.1 in the world.

Craig O'Shannessy (@BrainGameTennis) is the leading analyst for wtatennis.com throughout the 2014 season, utilizing SAP Data & Insights to uncover the patterns and percentages that dominate the game. Visit Craig's website at www.braingametennis.com for more expert strategy analysis.

SAP