Petra Kvitova beats Victoria Azarenka to reach first Grand Slam final
Thursday 30 June 2011
Petra Kvitova became the first Czech player since Jana Novotna to reach a Wimbledon singles final as she upset fourth seed Victoria Azarenka in a rollercoaster clash on Centre Court.
Kvitova, who knocked Azarenka out of Wimbledon last year, stunned her opponent by racing through the first set in 26 minutes, but the Belarusian hit back straight away, breaking once to take the second set.
An immediate break in the final set gave Kvitova the advantage and Azarenka failed to respond, leaving the number eight seed to claim her first place in a grand slam final with a 6-1 3-6 6-3 success.
Novotna reached her third Wimbledon final in 1998, triumphing for the first time with victory over Nathalie Tauziat.
Azarenka had little trouble in swatting aside Tamira Paszek to reach the last four and she began in much the same form today, earning a break point in the first game.
She could not capitalise on the opportunity though and the pendulum soon swung Kvitova's way, as she broke her opponent after she sent a poor backhand long.
At 3-1 down, Azarenka thought she had earned a way back into the first set after pulling back to deuce from being 40-0 down, but even a two-minute break to stop an alarm outside the court could not prevent Kvitova holding.
Azarenka, letting off her trademark screams with every shot, had no answer to Kvitova's fierce returns and she was broken for a second time before the eighth seed took the set with three aces in the seventh game.
The performance that had brought Kvitova the first set in such a punishing fashion appeared to desert her and Azarenka moved 2-0 up in the second after winning the first eight points.
Pumping her fist at every point won, Azarenka took Kvitova to the brink of defeat for a second time in the set, but the forehand she thought was a winner had crept marginally over the baseline.
Azarenka continued to win the baseline battle and could even afford to miss two break points on her way to clinching the second set 6-3.
The topsy-turvy match took another twist at the start of the third set as Azarenka went to pieces again, losing her first service game of the set after going wide with a forehand.
Azarenka had a chance to break back immediately but over-hit a forehand for Kvitova to open up a 3-0 lead.
The Belarusian had another two break points in the fifth game after hitting a passing winner, but Kvitova rescued the game with a clever drop shot and a aggressive forehand at the net before a powerful ace from the Czech made it 4-1.
Azarenka looked nervous as she planted into the net on her own serve in the sixth before recovering to stay one break behind her opponent.
Kvitova's coach and family then rose from their seats in joy as the world number eight held her own serve to move 5-2 ahead and leave Azarenka serving to stay in the match.
Azarenka slammed the fourth point of the game into the net to give Kvitova match point, but she mis-timed a forehand wide.
A second opportunity came seconds later after Azarenka sent a forehand wide and the fourth seed buckled under pressure, double-faulting to send Kvitova through to the final where she will meet either Sabine Lisicki or Maria Sharapova.
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