Petra Kvitova has made it through to her first final of the year in emphatic fashion, ending the career-best 12-match winning streak of Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-6(5), 6-4 at the Rothesay International.
No.14 seed Kvitova prevailed in just under 2 hours on Friday, stopping No.15 seed Haddad Maia’s breakthrough surge and making the Eastbourne final for the second time. Kvitova fell to Marion Bartoli in the 2011 Eastbourne final, just weeks before Kvitova won the first of her two Wimbledon titles.
"It was a tough one, that’s what I expected," Kvitova said afterward. "It was about the serve, that was a key to the tiebreak in the first set and the early break in the second. Just one break in the whole match, so it was really a grass game today."
Flipping the script: Coming into the semifinal showdown, Kvitova had only a .500 win-loss record for the season (13-13). The former World No.2 from the Czech Republic had not even reached a semifinal this year until this week.
By contrast, Brazil’s Haddad Maia was in the best form of her life on the grass, having won her first two Hologic WTA Tour singles titles back-to-back in Nottingham and Birmingham. One of Haddad Maia’s 12 consecutive grass-court wins came over Kvitova, in the first round of Birmingham last week.
But Kvitova got her revenge this time around, slamming 27 winners to Haddad Maia's 12. For the second match in a row, Kvitova was not broken and faced only a single break point.
Kvitova is now one victory away from her 29th career singles title. The Czech is 4-1 in grass-court finals, with two Birmingham titles accompanying her two Wimbledon trophies. Kvitova’s only loss in a grass-court final was the aforementioned defeat by Bartoli in the 2011 Eastbourne final.
Key moments: There were no breaks in the first set as the two powerful left-handers reached the tiebreak with ease. In the breaker, Kvitova's blistering forehand made sure she was never behind, and she fired a winner from that side to convert her second set point after 66 minutes.
Kvitova started the second set off with a bang by breaking the Haddad Maia serve. That proved to be the decisive game, as it was the only loss of service by either player all day. All told, Kvitova won three-quarters of her service points in the second set to take home the win.
Ostapenko storms past Giorgi
In Saturday's final, Kvitova will face defending champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. No.8 seed Ostapenko won her ninth straight Eastbourne match with a 6-2, 6-2 dismissal of No.12 seed Camila Giorgi of Italy.
Ostapenko's 68-minute victory puts her into a second final of the year, having already claimed the title at Dubai in February. Ostapenko, who has not dropped a set this week, is aiming for her sixth career WTA singles title.
Ostapenko and Giorgi are both known for punishing groundstrokes, but things went entirely Ostapenko's way on Friday as she improved to 2-1 against Giorgi. Ostapenko's 22 winners doubled Giorgi's 11, and the Latvian was never broken in the match.
Kvitova and Ostapenko have evenly split their eight previous meetings. In their most recent match, Ostapenko needed a final-set tiebreak to overcome Kvitova en route to her Dubai title this year.
"For me, a final after almost a year [without one] will be great, so I’m glad already," Kvitova said. "Jelena loves to play here, obviously, we saw it, she has a really great game for grass. … It will be, again, about the serve, return, and a few shots from the beginning."