No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova defeated No. 7 seed Maria Kirilenko 7–6(9), 7–5 on Saturday afternoon to win the New Haven Open at Yale. Kvitova did not drop a set the entire tournament.
Kvitova, the world No. 5 and 2011 Wimbledon champion, moved to 41–12 on the year. The New Haven Open was the second tournament Kvitova has won in 2012, after the Rogers Cup in Montreal just two weeks ago.
Kvitova and Kirilenko had played five times prior to the finals of the New Haven Open, with Kirilenko leading the head-to-head series 3–2. Most recently, the pair squared off in the quarterfinals of the London Olympics, where Kirilenko claimed victory in straight sets.
In New Haven, though, the two played a tightly contested and highly entertaining match with several twists and turns. The first set, which lasted one hour and eight minutes, saw both players struggle to hold serve. Six of the 12 games in the set were breaks; each player was broken three times. It appeared Kirilenko was having some trouble with her serve, double-faulting seven times in the match and several times hitting first serves that landed nearer the baseline than the service line.
But neither player was sloppy; both fought hard and the tennis improved as the set wore on. The tiebreak featured a battle of wills as both players saved set points. Kirilenko saved three before taking an 8–7 lead in the tiebreak. Kvitova quickly erased that set point, though, smashing a cross-court forehand return winner off Kirilenko’s 82-mph second serve. Kvitova finally took the set on her fifth try at 10–9, as she watched Kirilenko’s backhand sail wide.
The second set was equally captivating. Kirilenko shook off her tiebreak disappointment to break Kvitova twice, jetting out to a 5–2 lead. In climbing from 2–2 to 5–2, Kirilenko won 11 straight points. But, admittedly, Kirilenko got nervous at the prospect of playing a third and decisive set. Despite the most successful season of her career, she has not won a title this year.
“Suddenly I broke her and I was 5–2 up,” Kirlilenko said. “Then I start to feel, I have a chance to win the set.”
In the eighth game of the second set, with Kirilenko serving for the set at 5–2, Kvitova seemed to tap into an energy reserve. She began to hit her groundstrokes harder and to be much more aggressive on her returns. She won the final five games of the match, breaking Kirilenko three times, twice when Kirilenko was serving for the set.
Kvitova needed five opportunities to break Kirilenko in the lengthy and demoralizing eighth game, which was the turning point of the set. In the 10th and 12th games of the set, Kvitova broke Kirilenko at love.
Kvitova’s form this summer has been outstanding. Her hard court play landed her the U.S. Open Series title, which would provide her with a $1 million bonus should she win the U.S. Open.
Speaking of her stellar North American summer, Kvitova sounded pleased.
“Play three tournaments in a row and win two, it’s great for me,” Kvitova said. “I hope it will continue in the U.S. Open.”
Kvitova lost last year in the first round in the U.S. Open. She will begin play in Flushing Meadows on Monday.