Petra Kvitova  v Kiki Bertens (H2H: Kvitova leads 1-0)
Kvitova is going for a third title in Madrid
Bertens is looking at potentially her first Premier Mandatory title – her biggest to date
MADRID, SPAIN – And then there were two, as Petra Kvitova continues her unbeaten run on clay but comes up against Kiki Bertens, aiming for her biggest title to date.
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Path to the Final
Petra Kvitova 
SF: Karolina Pliskova  76(4) 6-3
SF: Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-2
QF: Daria Kasatkina 6-4 6-0
QF: 4-6 6-2 6-3
R3: Anett Kontaveit 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3
R3: Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-2
R2: Monica Puig 6-3 7-6(8)
R2: Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-4
R1: Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-2
R1: Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-4
How they got there
Coming into Friday night’s semi-final, both two-time champion Petra Kvitova, and newly crowned Stuttgart champion Karolina Pliskova were on nine wins each, and after Pliskova’s turn in self-belief to get a win over Simona Halep in the quarter-finals, she looked to be starting in the same way breaking at the start of the match.
Kvitova had to apply the brakes as her compatriot had another chance forcing her to save another break point before squandering a chance of her own. What was required was a little patience as they traded breaks to force a tie-break to decide the first set.
Pliskova could not capitalise on an early break, with Kvitova just keeping the advantage. That momentum saw Kvitova start with a break in the second set, deflecting a late surge by Pliskova to get the break back but saving all three break points. She would book-end the set by breaking for the match and a spot in the final once more.
Kvitova said, after the match: “I was little bit tight I think. I did have some easy mistakes in the first game. Obviously when you’re playing Karolina and you lose your service, it’s pretty tough afterwards.
“But I stayed calm actually. I had to fight for my games on the serve. But then the chance to break her came. Yeah, it was really up and down. I think we both were a little bit nervous. It showed on the tennis today.
“But yeah, after the first set, I think I felt a little bit more relaxed. I was feeling little bit better on the shots, on the rallies, which was nice finally. Yeah, so I think it was up and down. It’s just a women’s tennis match (smiling).”
Earlier in the day Caroline Garcia, who had largely been flying under the radar throughout this tournament, but nevertheless in impressive form, came undone at the hands of Kiki Bertens 6-2 6-2. The Dutchwoman has proved to be a force on the clay in recent years, and the win here netted her a career-high ranking.
Last year her run to the semi-final was her best result, and with her win over the Frenchwoman, she will be contesting her biggest tour level title. She simply did not allow Garcia to come even close to executing a game plan, and although Garcia did try and change things up, the frustration soon told.
Bertens said: “I think it was maybe not great tennis, what people want to see with a lot of winners. But Caroline is a great player. She likes when the ball comes, like, from the hip. So I was just trying to play as many different balls as I could. I think I did it pretty well.
“I was trying to put in the heavier balls, some slices, just grinding out there, trying to keep as many balls back in the court. Yeah, that’s what I did really well today.”
Garcia had looked very solid all this week but had no option but to concur with Bertens’ own assessment of her game.
“I had my game plan, but it was not working at the beginning. I tried different things, but it was pretty much close to always the same thing.
“She was feeling the ball well. She was taking care of the high ball very well. Sometimes I had the feeling, when I had the opportunity, I was a bit better in the rally. But she was just playing this high ball. I was lost like I was years ago in [juniors].
“Right now, it’s like if I lost first round. For now, I don’t see a lot of positive. I’m just really [disappointed] about my performance today.”
The pair last played on Wimbledon a couple of years ago, where Kvitova not surprisingly brutalised the Dutchwoman for the loss of just one game. However, in the past two years Bertens on clay has been a real force to be reckoned with.
Her best result obviously came at Roland Garros a couple of years ago where she lost to the eventual champion Serena Williams in the semi-final and that win catapulted her from outside the Top 50 into a then-career high of No. 27 in the world.
Of course, being up against a two-time Grand Slam champion is quite another thing and it is fair to say that Kvitova not only knows how to deal with the big-stage pressure, but is also a two-time winner in Madrid.
The altitude and the potency off her serves helps her greatly, and being a lefty is also going to help but Bertens’ sheer range of variety and how she can mix things up to confound as paid off greatly, including claiming the scalps of Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki.
Kvitova’s grim determination to fight on (and on) may see her finally succumb to the efforts of putting in so many winning performances, but the prospect of being the first person to win three titles here is a big motivation.
Her powerful striking game uses the altitude to good effect, and her ability to come up with crazy angles will help combat some of the slicing, dicing and high balls she can expect from Bertens.
This will be a fight to the gritty end, but Kvitova probably has the edge a little in terms of her momentum and her experiences in getting the job done in the Caja Magica.
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