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Kvitova Beats Keys for Cincinnati Final and Top 20 Return

Petra Kvitova made her first career Cincinnati final. Photo credit: Western & Southern Open Facebook

Trading ballistic blows in late stages of a baseline battle, Petra Kvitova scored a major knockdown.

The velocity and depth of Kvitova’s drive knocked Madison Keys to her knees.

Unleashing damaging strikes, Kvitova conquered Keys 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-3 to reach her first Cincinnati final—and return to the Top 20 in the live rankings.

The 32-year-old Kvitova will play for her 30th career title, including a 20th hard-court crown, in tomorrow’s Western & Southern Open final against either qualifier Caroline Garcia or sixth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka.

Kvitova erased six of eight break points, including a rousing rally from triple break point down to pull off a phenomenal hold for 5-3 in the decider of a match she called one of her best performances of the 2022 season. It is the 40th final of Kvitova’s distinguished career.

Ultimately, Kvitova’s clutch serving down the stretch and her commitment to “hit it as hard as I can” facing break points helped her pull through.

“When I break her in the third every service game was a battle,” Kvitova told Tennis Cannel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “She was really going for it. She returned very well —it was one or two points in that game. I hit it as hard as I could almost. I was like…I don’t even want to remember anything from it.

“In the end, it was really a relief. It was mental it was very, very tough. The whole match it as a great battle. Madison played amazing tennis. I knew it would be tough but I didn’t expect it this tough. Definitely it was one of the best matches I played this season for sure.”

Contesting Cincinnati for the 11th time, Kvitova was almost one and done this week. Kvitvao saved a match point in her opening-round win over Jil Teichmann and has not looked back beating Sorana Cirstea, Ons Jabeur and Ajla Tomljanovic before today’s triumph. Facing sudden death in the first round has given Kvitova new life in the Queen City.

Kvitova handed one of her Wilson racquets to the ball kid for restringing before rising to play the decisive set with ambition.

In a strike that recalled the young Monica Seles, Kvitova leaned into a flat short-angled backhand winner for break point and broke to open the decider. Though Kvitova is known for her fast, flat strikes, she was playing with more margin on her shots. Several Keys’ backhands flat-lined into net as Kvitova stretched her lead to 3-1.

Down 15-30 in the sixth game, Kvitova curled a running forehand pass down the line, pumped her fourth ace and drew a running error earning a crucial hold for 4-2.

Missing a running backhand, Keys flipped her Wilson racquet in disgust. Then reset, ripped a forehand down the line and held firm for 3-4.

Staring down triple break point in the next game, Kvitova sent a barrage of serves to the Keys backhand drawing errors off the two-hander to deny all three break points. Kvitova lasered a drive down erupting in a celebratory scream for 5-3.

A defiant Keys saved a couple of match points, including whipping a forehand winner behind Kvitova, to raw even at deuce. The depth of a Kvitova drive knocked Keys to her knees as the Czech earned a third match point. When Keys sprayed a backhand, Kvitova was through to her first Cincinnati final.

“I’m very happy, obviously,” Kvitova said. “I didn’t play such a great game at some point maybe a year and something for sure. I faced a lot of injuries, mental challenges as well, exhausting for everything.

“Yeah I’m showing good tennis. My serve is back on so that’s very important.”