Kvitova’s game plan of aggressive tennis against Caroline Wozniacki
almost backfired on the night. But that’s the way the Czech plays, and
despite a bunch of unforced errors while losing the first set, she never
ditched her strategy.
And that, ultimately brought her dividends at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex yesterday. After losing the first set, the former two-time Wimbledon champion hit some exceptional forehand winners to outgun top seed Wozniacki 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 and seal her place in today’s Qatar Total Open final against Garbine Muguruza.
Spain’s Muguruza did not take the court yesterday after her semi-final opponent, No. 2 seed Simona Halep pulled out of the tournament citing a foot injury after winning her quarter-final match on Friday.
While Muguruza enjoyed her day off in the hotel, she could well have watched the only semi-final played yesterday, which lasted for two hours and 35 minutes and swung like a pendulum.
Australian Open champion Wozniacki had things under control when she won the first set and served for the match not once but twice in the second. But both times 16th seed Kvitova emerged from the deep hole with some stunning forehand winners.
In the first set, Kvitova was all over the place as she belted eight winners but also committed double the unforced errors. And Wozniacki, who had five winners and as many unforced errors, took advantage of Kvitova’s scrappy game.
Wozniacki took the first break of the match at 4-2, but was broken right back by Kvitova. The Dane, however, reeled off the next two games to take the opening set.
In the second set, Wozniacki continued to stand like a wall as errors flew from Kvitova’s racquet as she raced to a 2-0 lead.
But Kvitova was not the one to give up as she pulled things back to draw level at 3-3. At 5-4 and 6-5, Wozniacki had a chance to close out the match, but Kvitova held on and won four straight points in the tie-break to send the match into a third set.
In the decider, while Kvitova was all charged up, Wozniacki was clearly annoyed to have wasted opportunities.
At 4-4, a contentious line call made an annoyed Wozniacki complain to the chair umpire for a long time as the Dane lost her focus. She lost her serve the next game only to break right back as Kvitova served for the match. But Kvitova didn’t let it get away from her, saving her best tennis for last to close out the battle.
In the end Kvitova’s winners made all the difference. The 27-year-old Czech belted 50 winners to Wozniacki’s 14. Last night’s victory also extended Kvitova’s dominance over Wozniacki, which stands at 8-5 and she has won last four encounters between the two. It was also Kvitova’s 12th successive win, having won in St. Petersburg a fortnight ago, followed by Fed Cup wins last weekend.
“It’s definitely disappointing when I had a chance to serve it out twice in that second set,” said Wozniacki, who was seeking to make her third Doha final but has never won before. “I didn’t get many first serves in the first game, and in the second game she played aggressively and I made a few unforced errors. I felt that was frustrating because I had my opportunities there,” the 27-year-old said.
Kvitova, meanwhile, will play her maiden final in Doha, having not gone beyond the quarter-final stage in her previous five attempts. For the 27-year-old, it will also be her first final appearance at Premier 5 level or above since her title in Wuhan in October 2016 – and the biggest final of her comeback from the knife injuries she sustained in a home invasion that year.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Dabrowski and Jelena Ostapenko made it to their maiden final as a pair in the doubles. The Canadian-Latvian duo scored a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over fellow unseeded pair, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of Czech Republic, in the semi-finals.
Dabrowski and Ostapenko were awaiting the winners of the other semi-final between Monique Adamczak and Lyudmyla Kichenok, and No.8 seeds Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who were playing a late match last night.
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