Petra Kvitova does possess the abilities to defeat every top player when she is in form, but the Czech finds herself in an unprecedented six-match losing streak at the prestigious year-end WTA Finals after losing in the 2015 final, going winless in the round-robin last year and now losing her opening two matches in Shenzhen.
Kvitova found her semifinal chances in jeopardy after being stunned by seventh seed Belinda Bencic on Centre Court at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre. A promising start ended up in a disappointing 3-6, 6-1, 4-6 defeat to the resurgent Bencic, who overcame a mid-match slump and rebounded to triumph, earning her first career win at the year-end championships.
28 winners were not enough for Kvitova as her 39 unforced errors accounted for more than half of Bencic’s points won throughout the entire match. Bencic was able to break serve on five occasions, hitting just 19 winners but played a much cleaner match than the Czech, committing just 27 unforced errors.
Bencic will take on alternate Kiki Bertens in the final round-robin match while Kvitova goes up against world number one Ashleigh Barty. Effectively, the winners of the respective match will book their spots in the semifinals, although a Kvitova three-set win coupled with a Bertens three-set win will complicate things with the game percentage being taken into consideration.
Bencic seals fantastic comeback win
Both players looked solid off the ground at the start of the match, but Kvitova was firing on all cylinders as she dominated her serves and threatened to find a breakthrough early on. Owning the first break opportunity in the sixth game, Kvitova had only lost two points in three service games previously and was on course for a routine victory after her disappointment against Osaka on Sunday.
A stunning one-two punch saved Bencic from the brink as she took charge from there, claiming four consecutive games against an erratic Kvitova to take the opening frame 6-3. Kvitova lost her focus from that missed break chance, failing to find her first serves and losing the rhythm on her forehand.
Kvitova fought straight back after a quick toilet break, slamming four games on the trot to regain the momentum. Bencic looked down-and-out and the match soon looked similar to her opening-match loss to Barty on Sunday. Nonetheless, she continued to fight and fended off multiple break points in the fifth game to prevent a bagel. Kvitova was able to close out the set, though, despite hitting just four winners which showcased the difficult conditions of the courts.
The deciding set was more topsy-turvy when the players could barely secure a service game, with four consecutive breaks at one point. The decisive moment of the match came in the eighth game when Kvitova had a break point, which would have taken her to a 5-3 lead and given her the opportunity to serve out the match.
A big first serve saved Bencic once more, and this time Kvitova was unable to rebound from the disappointment as she conceded a couple of cheap errors to hand the Swiss the chance to serve for the upset. The youngster did not disappoint, putting in an efficient game to close out the 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 victory over the lefty.