Petra Kvitova brought an end to Beatriz Haddad Maia’s dream run on English grass at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne on Friday, beating the Brazilian 7-6(4) 6-4 to reach the final where she will meet defending champion Jelena Ostapenko, a 6-2 6-2 winner over Camila Giorgi.
For me, a final after almost a year [without one] will be great, so I’m glad already. Jelena loves to play here, obviously, we saw it, she has a really great game for grass. It will be, again, about the serve, return, and a few shots from the beginning. Petra Kvitova
Kvitova is a two-time Wimbledon champion looking to emulate her All England Club triumphs in 2011 and 2014, while Ostapenko, who won Roland Garros in 2017, is seeking to win both the singles and doubles titles on Saturday.
Haddad Maia admits that Kvitova has been an idol of hers for many years and, seeing the two of them on court together, they are like mirror images, both tall, left-handed and with identical service actions, while each are an individual force on the grass.
The 26-year old Brazilian has racked up 660 ranking points this season to rise to No 29 in the world, but it was the the 32-year-old Czech who held the edge on Friday in their semi-final contest.
It was a close encounter that could so easily have swung the other way, with sheer power headlining the story as the former World No 2 calmly put the match to bed in a 2 hour straight-sets masterpiece, earning the only service break of the day to begin the second set against the Brazilian.
Kvitova, ranked 31 these days, ended Haddad Maia’s 12-match winning streak and any hope of the Brazilian winning 3 grass court tournaments on the trot, having lifted the trophies at both Nottingham and Birmingham.
In a tussle between the two big-hitting left-handers, Kvitova avenged last week’s defeat to Haddad Maia at Birmingham.
“It was a tough one, that’s what I expected,” Kvitova said afterwards. “It was about the serve, that was a key to the tiebreak in the first set, and the early break in the second. Just one break in the whole match, so it was really a grass game today.”
Kvitova slammed 27 winners to Haddad Maia’s 12, and was not broken for the second match in a row, while she faced just one break point.
There were no breaks at all in the first set as the two powerful left-handers reached the tiebreak with ease.
There, Kvitova’s blistering forehand made sure she was never behind, and she fired a winner from that side to convert her second set point after 66 minutes.
Kvitova started the second off with a bang by breaking, and that proved to be the deciding factor as, all told, the Czech won three-quarters of her service points in the set to take home the win.
She is now one victory away from her 29th career singles title, with a 4-1 record in grass-court finals, including two Birmingham titles accompanying her two Wimbledon trophies.
Kvitova and Ostapenko will be going head-to-head for the 9th time when they meet on Saturday, with their record standing at 4-4, but only one of those coming on grass, in 2016, when the Latvian prevailed on the grass courts of Birmingham.
The 14th-seeded Kvitova reached her first final of 2022, and her first grass-court final since Birmingham in 2018.
“For me, a final after almost a year [without one] will be great, so I’m glad already,” Kvitova said, who lost to Marion Bartoli in the 2011 Eastbourne final before going on the win the title at Wimbledon. “Jelena loves to play here, obviously, we saw it, she has a really great game for grass.
“It will be, again, about the serve, return, and a few shots from the beginning.”
Ostapenko crushed Giorgi in an hour and 8 minutes to reach the singles final and is also through to the Eastbourne doubles final with her Ukrainian partner Lyudmyla Kichenok, where they will face Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic & Magda Linette from Poland.
The Latvian’s aggressive style of play is her No 1 weapon on the fast grass which, coupled with her powerful groundstrokes, adds pace behind the ball.
The 25-year-old dictated from the get-go against Giorgi and secured her 3rd break of the match, forcing the Italian from corner to corner with her relentless pace to keep her double hopes alive.
Ostapenko saved both break points she faced against the 12th seed, striking 22 winners, which were twice as many as Giorgi.
Her 68-minute victory puts Ostapenko into a second final of the year, having already claimed the title at Dubai in February, while she has not dropped a set this week as she seeks her 6th career WTA singles title.