Kvitova upsets Rybakina to win first Miami Open title

April 2, 2023 9:14 am

[Source: Reuters]

Petra Kvitova turned back the clock to upset Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina 7-6(14) 6-2 on Saturday to win her first Miami Open crown and ninth WTA 1000 title.

The veteran Czech player, seeded 15th, ended an epic, 22-minute first set tiebreak by converting her fifth set point when 10th-seeded Rybakina’s forehand landed in the net.

The powerful left-hander then swung freely in the second, racing out to a 3-0 lead and breaking the hard-serving Rybakina for a third time on match point.

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The 33-year-old Kvitova, who won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 and who had recently contemplated retirement, put her hands on her head in astonishment when Rybakina’s forehand sailed long to seal the win.

She then went over to her box to embrace her fiancé, former Czech player Jiri Vanek.

Kvitova, who fended off five set points in the see-saw tiebreak, said capturing it was the key to the match.

“The tiebreak, oh my God, it was probably the longest in my career and somehow I managed it,” she said.

“She had so many aces at the beginning of the tiebreak that I couldn’t even play. So it was really difficult and amazing.”

The loss ended Indian Wells champion Rybakina’s bid for the ‘Sunshine Double’ and snapped the reigning Wimbledon champion’s 13-match winning streak.

Rybakina’s 12 aces were offset by 24 unforced errors, and she won fewer than half of her second serve points.

By winning her 30th career title, the former world number two Kvitova will now re-enter the top 10 for the first time since September 2021.

High-stakes matches tend to bring out her best and she improved to 30 wins and 11 losses in finals.

“I love trophies, so that’s probably why,” she said when asked how she raises her game in big matches.

“I love playing finals, I love playing deeper in the tournament. That’s what I love the most about tennis. I love the game itself, I love the fight.

“I love the mental side of it as well, when you really have to think – what should you play, what shouldn’t you play.”

She said she would not change her expectations after the triumph.

“I don’t have any goals. My goal was always to have one title in a season, so I’m already done!” she said with a laugh.

The victory is the latest accomplishment for the resilient Kvitova, who required surgery on a stab wound to her racket hand that she suffered during an attack by a knife-wielding home intruder in 2016.