Return to form puts Kvitova into final

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The Independent Online

Being Wimbledon champion has brought its challenges for Petra Kvitova but the 21-year-old Czech is finishing the year in the form that delivered her first Grand Slam title this summer. Playing here inthe season-ending WTA Championships for the first time, Kvitova will meet Victoria Azarenka in today's final knowing that victory will be accompanied both by a cheque for $1.75m (nearly £1.1m) and by another rise in the world rankings.

In yesterday's semi-finals Kvitova beat Australia's Sam Stosur 5-7 6-3 6-3, while Azarenka beat Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-3. Both finalists already have enough points to overhaul Maria Sharapova, the current world No 2, in tomorrow's updated world rankings list. Whoever wins will be the new world No 2, while the loser will be No 3.

After a splendid first half of the year, Kvitova admitsthat she struggled both with her tennis and with the subsequent public interestin her in the wake of her Wimbledon victory. She won only two matches in her next three tournaments and lost in the first round of the US Open to the world No 48, Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru.

"It's not easy to maintainthe high level that I played at Wimbledon," Kvitova said. "When I started playing on hard courts it was reallytough to get back in the game because I had to change my tactics and technique a bit. The hard courts in the USA are slower and I don't like them too much."

Kvitova has recovered her form in the autumn since returning to indoor courts. Yesterday's win was her 18th in a row indoors and she will be hoping she can extend that sequence in Moscow next weekend, when she leads the Czech Republic's team in the Fed Cup final against Russia.

Britain's Anne Keothavong maintained her form to win the Aegon GB Pro-Series tournament in Barnstaple, beating Poland's Marta Domachowska 6-1 6-3 in the final.

Elena Baltacha, the British No 1, reached the final of the $100,000 International Tennis Federation tournament in Poitiers, France with a 7-6 6-1 victory over Irena Pavlovic. Baltacha, the world No 58, should return to the top 50 if she beats the Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm today.