What happened earlier during the Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbine Muguruza semifinal seemed to repeat itself as a Maria Sharapova who had beaten all her opponents in the round robin faltered against Petra Kvitova, who had reached this stage of the tournament through the skin of her teeth—benefiting mostly from Lucie Safarova defeating Angelique Kerber yesterday. Sharapova was unable to emulate her form from the group stages, despite having a strong showing at the beginning of the second set. Here is a deeper look at what went down throughout the match.
Kvitova Powers Through First Set
The match began by delivering in its promised intensity as both players traded breaks from the get go. It was the Czech however who always seemed sharper during the more important points. Even though she only managed to hit seven winners throughout the set, she kept her unforced errors to single digits and was a lot more precise off the ground.
Both were tight in holding their games, but it was at 3-3 when Kvitova got her opportunity to break at advantage, and she took it to go up 4-3. She halted Sharapova from gaining any chance of a comeback in the set as she was able to consolidate and race to a 5-3 lead. She was even more impressive in her next return game, as she broke Sharapova again to take the set 6-3.
Kvitova Makes Comeback To Fight For Second Set
After having her coach come down and tell her to "step it up", urging her to dictate on points more, Sharapova was able to raise her level of intensity tremendously. She seemed unfazed by her first set loss as she broke Kvitova in the very first game with some excellent shot making.
From here on followed the dominance of Sharapova, as she consolidated and broke the Kvitova serve once again. She ran away with a 5-1 lead and the Czech was struggling to keep pace with the Russian. However another plot twist was to ensue shortly.
A turning point in the set would be Kvitova's service game at 1-5 as she managed to hold serve despite some incredible returns from the other side of the net. This gave her a huge confidence boost as she proceeded to break the Sharapova serve, and then consolidate her hold once again despite being set point down. What followed was a tense game on Sharapova's serve, which Kvitova emphatically won to bring the set back on serve. After holding her serve once more it was now Kvitova who was leading in the set and Sharapova who was serving to remain in the match. However, this the Russian was able to do rather comfortably as she took the set into a tiebreak.
Sharapova began win a minibreak at 1-0, but saw her efforts go to waste as Kvitova broke her back. This clearly took the steam out of the Russian as Kvitova surged ahead to a 6-3 lead to gain multiple match points. She took the final point after winning a classic rally.
Kvitova can be extremely pleased with the comeback she made in the second set, and the fact that she was able to defeat an in-form Sharapova in straight sets. This is the second time she has reached the final of the year end championships, where she will be playing Agnieszka Radwanska tomorrow.