Kvitova edges out Keys to make Cincinnati final for first time

The Czech is now just one win away from a 30th career WTA title

Petra Kvitova Cincinnati SF 2022 AI/Reuters/Panoramic

When Petra Kvitova is on her game, few players can stop her.

And at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday, the Czech – twice the champion at Wimbledon – laid to rest one of the few things she’s failed to achieve in her outstanding career as she beat American Madison Keys 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-3 to reach the final of the Western & Southern Open for the first time.

“I knew it would be difficult but I didn’t know it would be this difficult,” said Kvitova, who will play Aryna Sabalenka or Caroline Garcia in the final. “Maddy played amazing.”

Ranked No 28, Kvitova will be back in the top 20 next week but the Czech, who won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, said she was more satisfied with getting through to the final, having lost in the semis in 2012 and 2018.

“I don’t really care about the ranking, I think in women’s tennis, it doesn’t really mean anything,” she said. “But being in the final is more important. Finally I made a final here.”

Keys starts well, Kvitova fights back

It’s the 40th final of her career and Kvitova is now just one win away from a 30th WTA Tour title.

Keys, who will also return to the world’s top 20 next week after a superb week, began well, breaking Kvitova on her way to a 3-1 lead. Kvitova hit back to level at 3-3 and the pair then set about producing a high-quality first set, full of crisp ball-striking.

Twice Keys served to stay in the first set and twice she came up with the goods and after Kvitova saved a set point at 5-6 in the tiebreak, Keys thumped a backhand to set up a second set point and then wrapped up the set.

But Kvitova, whose only title of 2022 came at Eastbourne in June, hit back well, breaking early in the second set and maintaining the advantage to level the match.

Another break gave her the advantage in the decider and Kvitova remained impregnable on serve, coming through a tough service game at 4-3 before closing out the match two games later.

The Czech won against Swiss Jil Teichmann (6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3), Romanian Sorana Cirstea (6-2, 6-3), Tunisian Ons Jabeur, the No 5 seed (6-1, 4-6, 6-0) and Australian qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic (6-2, 6-3) ahead of her victory.

Earlier in the tournament, Keys, ranked No 24, won against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva (7-5, 6-3), Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, the No 16 seed (6-4, 7-5), Pole Iga Swiatek, the top seed (6-3, 6-4) and Kazakh Elena Rybakina (6-2, 6-4).

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