Kvitova outlasts Keys in Cincinnati to reach 40th career singles final

Petra Kvitova advanced to the finals of the Western & Southern Open for the first time in her career after defeating 2019 champion Madison Keys 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-6 in their semifinal showdown on Saturday. 3 defeated.

The occasion also marks the 40th Hologic WTA Tour singles final of Kvitova’s career. Kvitova, who is 29-10 in the finals, is aiming for a 30th career singles title on Sunday.

World No. 28 Kvitova of the Czech Republic took 2 hours and 18 minutes to surpass American Keys at No. 24 in a battle between former top 10 players and power hitters.

Brief information: Kvitova and Keys came into their last meeting in a stuck 4-4 head-to-head. Their last meeting came a year ago in the first round of this event, where Kvitova triumphed in straight sets.

After narrowly losing the tiebreak in the first set, Kvitova rallied to earn another Cincinnati win over Keys and come out on top in their rivalry. It’s the Czech’s first win in a Cincinnati semifinal, having previously lost at that round in 2012 and 2018.

With the win, former world No. 2 Kvitova is expected to climb back into the top 20 in Monday’s singles rankings. Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova had dropped to 34 earlier this year – her lowest ranking since 2010.

Kvitova almost went out in the first round this week – she had to save a match point in her opening match against last year’s runner-up Jil Teichmann.

Instead, Kvitova is in her 12th WTA 1000 final and is just one win away from her ninth WTA 1000 title. Only Serena Williams (13), Victoria Azarenka (10) and Simona Halep (9) have won more WTA 1000 titles than Kvitova since the class’s inception in 2009.

Despite losing on Saturday, Keys had another standout performance this week in Cincinnati, including a round of 16 victory over the top seeded Iga Swiatek for their first win over a current world No. 1. Keys also defeated reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals.

Game moments: After dividing the first two sets, Kvitova fired off a massive forehand return to break Keys in the opening game of the decider. Keys almost retired with a 40-0 lead on Kvitova’s serve at 4-3, but the Czech pushed out of danger to hold at 5-3 and retain her break advantage.

In the next game, Keys used a forehand winner and a stunning serve to erase the first two match points she faced, but a searing Kvitova backhand return gave the Czech her third match point. This one proved the charm after Keys sent a forehand wide to end the affair with big hits.

In fact, Keys had four more winners and four fewer unforced errors than Kvitova that day. But Kvitova was more successful at break points, converting five of 12 while Keys went 2-for-8.

There’s more to come…

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