By Chris Oddo/ Saturday, September 28, 2013
In the biggest all-lefty WTA final in 20 years, Petra Kvitova survived a see-saw battle to defeat Angelique Kerber in three sets, 6-2, 0-6, 6-3.
Petra Kvitova won her 11th career title by taking out Angelique Kerber in three sets in the Toray Pan Pacific Open final on Saturday in Tokyo.
Photo Source: AP
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Not since another Czech by the name of Martina Navratilova defeated Monica Seles in the 1994 Paris final has a premier-level final between two lefties been played, and on Saturday evening Kvitova made sure that the victor in the most recent battle of lefties was also Czech.
The 23-year-old had fallen out of the top ten for the first time since 2011 after this year's U.S. Open, but will return to No. 7 in the world with her most recent title, her second of 2013 and 11th of her career.
Kvitova also improves her record in tour-level finals to an impressive 11-4 with the win, while Kerber's drops to 2-5.
“I'm feeling really happy,” said Kvitova after the match. “For me all tournament was great.”
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Though Kvitova has become the queen of the three-set battle this year, she helped her chances of winning the title greatly when she got through double-duty on Thursday by beating Madison Keys and Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets, saving her legs for back-to-back three setters against Venus Williams on Friday evening and against Kerber in Saturday's final.
Kvitova's tour-leading three-set record improves to 21-11 with the victory, including 3-0 in Tokyo this year.
After racing out to an early lead on the strength of two service breaks in the first set, Kvitova's game went off the rails in the second—and Kerber was quick to take advantage, breaking three times on six opportunities while taking 25 of 38 points and closing the set 6-0.
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“I don't really know what happened,” said Kvitova. “I did some easy mistakes. I didn't move very well and I wasn't ready for every point. I think that Angie felt that and she took the chances.”
It's an all-too-familiar pattern for Kvitova, running hot and cold over a course of mere minutes, but also familiar to the former Wimbledon champion is the ability to forget a bad spell and summon her most aggressive, most sublime shotmaking for a stretch run.
Helped by an ill-timed double fault on break point in the second game, Kvitova raced out to a 4-0 lead against the World No. 9 in the decider.
In typical fashion Kerber battled back to close to 4-2, but after a few stumbles while trying to put Kerber away, Kvitova stayed on song to close proceedings on her fourth match point, launching a huge forehand at the end of a 20-stroke rally to earn the title in one hour and thirty-nine minutes.
“I was just lucky I did a good job at the end,” a modest Kvitova said afterwards. “Of course, I was feeling a little bit tired. Angie game back in the match and I just tried to focus on the point at hand.”
Kvitova's third decision in four career meetings against Kerber marks her best ever performance in Tokyo. In four career appearances, Kvitova had never been beyond the semifinals and had suffered two first-round losses.
Though Kerber has had a difficult time regaining her breakout form of 2013, the only player in the WTA's top ten that has yet to reach a Grand Slam final will stay at No. 9 in the world after the loss. Kerber also strengthened her bid for a spot in next month's WTA Championships, moving just five points outside of the eighth spot with her final run.