Petra Kvitova handed Angelique Kerber her first defeat as World No.1 after prevailing in a marathon third-round encounter at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open.
WTA Staff

WUHAN, China - Petra Kvitova handed Angelique Kerber her first defeat as World No.1 after prevailing in a marathon third-round encounter at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open.

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After three hours and 20 minutes on court, an exhausted Kvitova closed out a 6-7(10), 7-5, 6-4 win on her seventh match point.

"It's always tough to play against Petra," said Kerber, who was facing Kvitova for the tenth time in her career. "I think we both played on a really high level over three hours."

"At the end I think there's no loser. I did everything today. I was fighting until the end."

Under the roof at the Optics Valley International Tennis Center, Kerber set the tone early on and broke Kvitova's serve in a 21-point marathon game, and kept the Czech firmly under pressure. But Kvitova pushed right back and wrestled a break back with the help of a pair of Kerber's unforced backhand errors.

Kerber dug herself out of a 2-4 deficit and saved set point at 6-5 to keep the pair on pace and send the opening set into the tiebreaker. Both players held a handful of set points during the decider, but it was Kvitova who blinked first, sending a pair of tired forehands long to let the World No.1 slip away with the set after an hour and twenty minutes.

Kvitova put the set behind her and quickly rallied to take the deciding break in Kerber's very first service game, injecting her forehand with a change of pace to wrongfoot Kerber and force the error. Though they would go on to trade breaks twice, Kerber never managed to recover the lead and Kvitova powered on to level the match.

Kerber and Kvitova continued to throw everything and the kitchen sink at each other into the deciding set. Kvitova once again opened with an emphatic break to love, and saved 10 break points - including seven in just one game - to hold on to that lead. She finally converted on her seventh match point to claim her first win over Kerber as World No.1.

"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."

Despite the loss, Kerber stays secure in her spot in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global - she's still No.1 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard standings, having qualified for the season-ending event back in August.

"I remember every year, when I played Istanbul or Singapore, I was always like eight or nine," Kerber recalled. "We always were counting points. Actually, [my coach] is counting and I try to focusing on the matches.

"It's actually nice. It's actually nice to being here and know you are already in Singapore and not to counting points, and to win match by match."

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