Each day this week wtatennis.com is looking back at one of 2016's most memorable matches; next up is Petra Kvitova's epic win over Angelique Kerber in Wuhan.
WTA Staff

Petra Kvitova cut a troubled figure for much of 2016, searching in vain for the form that took her to two Wimbledon victories.

A quietly impressive summer on the North American cement suggested a corner had been turned, but even then few could have forecasted just how brilliant the Czech would be during the home stretch.

The catalyst came at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, where Kvitova inflicted the first defeat of Angelique Kerber reign as World No.1 in an absorbing third-round encounter.

Under the roof at the Optics Valley International Tennis Center, Kvitova set the tone in the first set, recovering from an early break to move 4-2 ahead. However, Kerber refused to wilt in the face of this baseline assault, fending off a set point with a trademark crouched backhand before pinching the tie-break when Kvitova sent a wild forehand long.

This ebb and flow continued into the second, the Czech edging her way ahead only to be reeled back in on each occasion. Eventually her persistence paid off, as she bludgeoned herself level before unleashing a fizzing backhand as she broke to love at the start of the decider.

It was an advantage she hung onto doggedly when Kerber staged an inevitable fightback. Somehow she held on, fending off 10 break-back points - including seven in one game - as she dragged her weary body towards the finishing line. The drama continued until the very end, Kvitova spurning six match points until she managed to summon a forehand that even Kerber could not track down.

By the time Kvitova belatedly closed out her 6-7(10), 7-5, 6-4 victory, she had been on court for three hours and 20 minutes - the fourth longest match of the season.

"I won after playing a long time. I feel happy. But as well I feel tired, and the tournament is still going, so I don't feel that satisfied. I think it was a great match from both of us," Kvitova said in her post-match press conference.

"I really gave everything today. I think same as her. I think it was really about the few points. It was a great battle. So hopefully the fans enjoyed it as well. I did, for sure. I will feel it tomorrow definitely."

If this ordeal had taken anything out of Kvitova, she hid it well. Over the following three days, Kvitova dismissed Johanna Konta, Simona Halep and then Dominika Cibulkova with increasing degrees of ease to capture the 18th title of her career.