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By Chris Oddo

Vinci, 2013 Katowice Open (April 14, 2013) -- With a combined 17-3 record in WTA finals, the inaugural BNP Paribas Katowice Open beetween top-seeded Petra Kvitova and second-seeded Roberta Vinci promised to be a hotly contested battle of proven champions.

It was, for a while.

Then Vinci took over.

The Italian played a strong tiebreaker to clinch the first set, then cruised to victory with a commanding performance in the second set, finishing off Kvitova 7-6(2), 6-1 for her 8th career title.

For Kvitova, who entered Sunday’s final with a 10-2 record in career finals, a 35-4 record in her last 39 indoor matches and with eight straight sets under her belt in Katowice, things unraveled quickly in the end.

She played a solid first set, particularly on the big points, saving three break points to hold for a 5-4 lead, and saving another to hold for 6-5.

But in the breaker, Vinci was too strong.

The 30-year-old, who reaches a career-high ranking of No. 12 in the world with the title, converted on her first set point in the tiebreaker, then proceeded to win the first three games of the second set to put the title within reach.

Kvitova would hold to close to 3-1, but Vinci, who won 35 of 43 first serve points on the evening, would hold to keep the three-game cushion, then break again for 5-1 before converting on her third championship point to close out the match in one hour and forty-one minutes.

Kvitova, who was without her full-time coach David Kotyza this week, employed some creative tactics on Sunday, serving and volleying in tight spots to keep Vinci off guard.

But in the match’s most crucial moments, the execution wasn’t there for the former Wimbledon champion. Kvitova, known for her ability to dominate service games, managed to win only 44 of 86 points on serve, and only kept herself in this match by saving 8 of 11 break points.

But the pressure from Vinci eventually wore the 23-year-old down. The Italian’s rise from a perpetual journeywoman to a bona fide top 20 presence continues in full force. After her first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance at the U.S. Open in 2012, Vinci finished in the top 20 for the first time in 15 years on tour.

This year, on the cusp of the top ten, and with the ability to win on every surface, the top 10 is within reach.

Earlier in the afternoon in the doubles final, the Spanish pairing Lara Arruabarrena and Lourdes Dominguez Lino defeated Raluca Olaru and Valeria Solovyeva, 6-4, 7-5.

(Photo Credit: BNP Paribas Katowice Open)


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