After a terrifying knife attack in December 2016 that seriously injured her left hand, not many gave Petra Kvitova a chance to play tennis again. They didn’t know, however, that the Czech is a tough character, with steely determination instilled in her by her father from a very young age.
Last night at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, Kvitova displayed her never-say-die attitude in abundance as she continued her remarkable turnaround by clinching her maiden Qatar Total Open title.
With her back against the wall for second night in succession, No. 16 seed Kvitova came back from a set down to outlast fourth seed Garbine Muguruza 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the title clash.
It was Kvitova’s 13th straight win, having come to Doha with victory in St. Petersburg followed by Fed Cup wins. It also rocketed the two-time Wimbledon champion back into top-10 for the first time since June 2016, having started the year at No. 29. She also beat three top five players in six matches that she played in Doha.
“It feels great. It’s a beautiful trophy. It took a while to win it, for sure definitely,” said Kvitova after taking home $591,750 in prize money.
“Today it was a big fight. Coming back from one set down was very difficult. I spent two and something (hours) on the court again. So I don’t know how I did it. But it’s worth it,” the Czech added, while grinning ear to ear with trophy by her side.
The triumph is even more extraordinary as Kvitova is still suffering from nerve damage to her playing hand and cannot entirely clench her fist or feel two of her fingers.
“I couldn’t really dream about it one year ago when I was in a totally different position, trying to come back and play. I couldn’t really wish for more. I played great tennis, St. Petersburg and here as well. So that means a lot to me,” Kvitova said.
“It feels great to be in top 10. I think that it feels much better right now because top 10 is the number. Of course, it’s such a great achievement to be back there. But I never really was thinking about the numbers, but about the game and kind of results, which I have it now. So it’s a nice bonus,” she added.
The road to her 22nd career title in Doha wasn’t easy for the 27-year-old, which is why Kvitova would treasure the Golden Falcon trophy more. Coming into the final, Kvitova had spent 8 hours and 22 minutes on court, including 2 hours and 35 minutes on Saturday night to beat No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals.
Muguruza, on the other hand, spent half of that time and was also lucky to get a free pass into the final, after Simona Halep pulled out from the semi-final with a foot injury.
The effects of that long semi-final showed last night, at least in the first set, as Kvitova found herself 0-5 down in no time. The Czech struggled with her serves and committed 15 unforced errors as Muguruza capitalised to pocket the first set, despite being broken while serving for the set at 5-1.
The match looked like it would not last an hour before Kvitova found her range in the second set. Her resilience came through, too, as she saved a break point in the fifth game with a stunning backhand slice to go 3-2 up. It soon became 4-2 to Kvitova as she converted her third break point from Muguruza’s serve.
Going for a decisive lead, Kvitova was once again in trouble as Muguruza earned a break point only to see the Czech turn it around with a stunning backhand crosscourt winner to make it 5-2 . She then served out the set in the first opportunity.
With her serve improving as the match went on, Kvitova was holding all the aces in the deciding set. Playing her third three-setter of the tournament, mentally too she seemed more prepared than Muguruza. After saving two break points to make it level at 2-2, Kvitova took a giant step towards the title by breaking Muguruza in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead. Any hopes of a comeback also disappeared for the 2016 French Open champion Muguruza, with the Spaniard twisting her knee while going for a deep shot and had to call for a trainer.
With a bandaged left knee, she held her serve in the ninth game but Kvitova sealed the title on her second championship point as a Muguruza backhand found the net.
Muguruza, who will climb one place to third in the rankings paid tribute to her opponent.
“I think she (Kvitova) has great shots, so she puts you in difficulties very soon in the point. She has a good serve. She has a very good first, second shot, so it’s always tricky to find your game or your rhythm,” she said.
The Spaniard also rued her missed opportunities, when she could not convert five break points on offer in the second set. “I think in the first set she wasn’t maybe playing her best. I think she made a lot of unforced errors right away, so it gave me a lot of advantage. In the second set it was more what I was expecting, a tough match. And in the third it was just a little bit more equal. I think I had a lot of break points, and I didn’t convert them. I think also because she came out with all those winners. I think if I would have get one of those break points, it would be different,” she said.
Dabrowski and Ostapenko clinch doubles title in Doha
Gabriela Dabrowski and Jelena Ostapenko won their maiden doubles title as a pair after defeating No.8 seeds Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 6-3 in the final to clinch the Qatar Total Open.
Playing just their fourth tournament together, the unseeded duo Dabrowski and Ostapenko beat seeded pairs en route to winning the title in Doha.
For Dabrowski, it marked her seventh career doubles title and second of the year following Sydney, alongside Xu Yifan. The Canadian had also won the Australian Open mixed doubles crown with Mate Pavic and the Roland Garros mixed doubles title with Rohan Bopanna.
Latvia’s Ostapenko, meanwhile, maintained an unbeaten record in doubles finals to claim her third title with as many partners, following St. Petersburg and Stuttgart last year with Alicja Rosolska and Raquel Atawo respectively.
Yesterday at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash complex, Dabrowski and Ostapenko were on top of their game against long-time doubles specialists Klepac of Slovakia and Martinez Sanchez of Spain.
The duo saved a break point in the opening game, but did not face another for the remainder of the set. Martinez Sanchez was broken in the fifth game, as Ostapenko served out the first set.
The second set followed a similar pattern as Dabrowski and Ostapenko once again broke Martinez Sanchez to seal the title.
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