Singapore | Wozniacki downs Kvitova to keep hopes alive
Tuesday evening in Singapore saw the return of the White group at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki’s win of the tournament against another former champion, Petra Kvitova.
Both had lost their opening matches and were looking to score their first win.
I played much better today. I served and returned pretty well, and moved really well against a player who is so powerful that you have to stay on your game, You never know what is going to happen against Petra, so I just stayed focussed and got a lot of balls back. Caroline Wozniacki
The more disappointed was Wozniacki, whose loss to Karolina Pliskova clearly hurt, and now she faced another Czech in the left-handed Kvitova, who led their head-to-head encounters 8-5.
“I think I didn’t start off very well. I was trying to find my rhythm out there,” Wozniacki said, after her first match.
“I had, I think, break points in almost every single of her service games and I didn’t get any one of them.
“I think with someone like Petra, she can play maybe not as well in one match and extremely well in the next. I think you don’t really know what to expect. I just have to be out there and ready for everything.
“I think everyone who is here deserves to be here. As I said playing someone that plays very aggressively, you have to be on the ball yourself.”
That she could turn things around is a credit to her wily game that has produced a solid year for her, backing up her run to the title last year with her maiden Grand Slam in Australia and with much for the Great Dane to prove.
Kvitova’s winning run against Wozniacki coming into the round robin match, however, leant in the Czech’s favour, particularly since she had won the last four meetings and, more importantly, all but the last were in straight sets.
She had had an even more commanding run against Elina Svitolina, to whom she lost her opener, but the Ukrainian had come out with all guns firing and the tall Czech had simply shrugged off the loss.
“I’m already very proud of myself to be here and be part of it,” she said. “I’m not depressed and just sitting and crying.
“On the other hand, there is still a chance to go. So that’s the good thing about the WTA Finals and about the group. Yeah, it’s not the end, so life is still going, so that’s why,” she added with a smile.
The 2nd seed restored order after the four opening upsets of the tournament by defeating the 4th seeded Kvitova, 7-5 3-6 6-2, in 2 hours and 19 minutes, and it took all her skills to do so.
This was their 14th meeting and the 6th win for the Dane, the first since this tournament in 2014 and four straight losses, plus it was only her 4th Top 10 match and her third win, the first since defeating Kerber in Doha in February.
Wozniacki served at 70% but she lost 42% of the points in her games, facing 13 break chances and saving 8 to at least limit the damage.
With 5 breaks of serves suffered, Wozniacki needed a great performance on the return to overcome that deficit and emerge as a winner, taking almost 50% of the points on Kvitova’s serve and breaking her 6 times from 9 opportunities.
Kvitova bounced back after a tight opening set, but she stood no chance in the decider against the persistent rival who lost just 5 points on serve in the final set, saving the best for the last to notch her first win in Singapore.
In the first set, Wozniacki converted her first break point of the tournament on her 12th opportunity.
She was 0/10 in her opening match against Pliskova and missed one earlier in the first set against Kvitova, but the Australian Open champion found the winner to break in the 8th game and lead 5-3.
Kvitova got her hands on a break point in the very next game, thanks to some punishing backhands, and she got the break back on a long ball from her opponent.
Soon they were on level terms at 5-all and Wozniacki staved off Kvitova’s attack in the following game to complete a gutsy service hold.
Kvitova’s error count kept moving in the wrong direction, and she quickly found herself facing set points in game 12.
Wozniacki converted on her second of the game, and third of the set to take a commanding lead over the Czech lefty.
The second set began with three consecutive breaks before Kvitova finally consolidated for a 3-1 lead.
Wozniacki called the trainer and received treatment on her left knee and, following a six-minute interruption, the Dane returned to the court to win the next two games and evened up the set to 3-all.
A 5th service break of the set came in the next game as Kvitova once again took the initiative.
Wozniacki saved 2 set points, but Kvitova closed the deal on her third opportunity, slicing her way to a hold and forcing the decider.
Sensing her title defence was hanging by a thread, Wozniacki regrouped to break at the start of the decider when she put away a backhand to win the longest rally of the match, and ran away with the contest as Kvitova wilted.
The two-time Wimbledon champion looked spent, and her opponent capitalised on that, taking a double-break and serving at 4-1.
She took the next two games to secure the win, leaving Kvitova on the edge of elimination.
The 28-year-old sealed victory on her first match point with a big serve that Kvitova sent long, and will hope to complete round robin play with a victory over Elina Svitolina to secure a semi-final berth.
“I played much better today. I served and returned pretty well, and moved really well against a player who is so powerful that you have to stay on your game,” Wozniacki said
“You never know what is going to happen against Petra, so I just stayed focussed and got a lot of balls back.”
A win for Pliskova against Svitolina in the second match of the evening would end Kvitova’s chances of advancing to the semis.