By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin
MONTREAL- The first day of the tournament, Tennis Panorama asked Petra Kvitova why outdoor hardcourts, especially those in North America, were her less successful surface so far in her career. Her answer was quite clear: ‘’Outdoor hard courts are more difficult for me: the sun, the wind, the changing conditions. Here in North America, the surface is also slower and it’s much more humid.’’ After getting through a tough rainy week in Montreal to win her first title of the year, she might now have to change her discourse…
Being a tennis ball was probably the toughest job in the world last night, with Kvitova and Chinese Li Na facing off in a hard-hitting contest. Indeed, both players didn’t want to lose any ground as they stood on the baseline for most of the match, exchanging utterly powerful shots in a topsy-turvy encounter.
Li Na, tenth seed here in Montreal, looked more solid at the start, gaining a 3-1 lead as Kvitova was missing very early in the rallies. But the Czech cleaned up her play, winning four consecutive games to lead 5-3. Despite having a set point, the fifth seed saw Li level up the set at 5-all and even obtain multiple break points, but Kvitova kept her composure and held for 6-5. Trying to stay in the set, Li saved four more set points, but couldn’t handle the sixth as Kvitova won the first set 7-5 in over an hour of rollercoaster tennis.
The start of the second set was even more unpredictable, as Li won the first 16 points to gain a very quick 4-0 lead. Kvitova ended the thoughts of a ‘Golden Set’ in her next service game, but while she found back some range in her very aggressive play, it was too little too late: the 2011 French Open Champion forced a third set, winning convincingly 6-2.
The start of the third set saw both players being more solid on serve as they held easily five consecutive times. Playing incredible tennis, Kvitova was the first one to get a break for 4-2, and the Czech never looked back. Keeping on holding serve comfortably, she finished the match on a powerful outwide serve, clinching the victory in the first three-set finals at the women’s Rogers Cup since 2000. With this title, she will climb back to the top 5 in the WTA rankings, while her opponent will return in the top 10.
This match ended another great event in Montreal, which always is very popular amongst the tennis fans. This year, over 150,000 people attended the tournament, confirming Montreal as the most visited one-week women’s tournament on the calendar.
Charles David Mathieu-Poulin blogs for WtaQuebec www.wtaquebec.com, a website promoting local Quebec players. He was covering the Rogers Cup in Montreal for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @earthstroke.