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Petra Kvitova Beats Elena Rybakina to Win Miami Open

Petra Kvitova captured her 30th career WTA Title at the Miami Open. Photo credit: Getty

Major challenges don’t scare Petra Kvitova.

Facing five set points in the tiebreaker today, Kvitova had no time for fear factor.

Striking with courage at crunch time, Kvitova conquered Indian Wells champion Elena Rybakina 7-6(14), 6-2 to capture her maiden Miami Open championship and 30th career title.

The 33-year-old Kvitova joined Serena Williams and Chrissie Evert as the only women to contest the Miami final after celebrating her 33rd birthday. 

Before a near-capacity crowd that included former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, Kvitova beat Rybakina for the second time this season, taking a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head series to return to the Top 10

In a clash of Wimbledon champions that lived up to its blockbuster billing for one set, Kvitova snapped Rybakina’s career-best 13 match winning streak, denied her quest to become the fifth woman in history to complete the Sunshine Double and handed the Australian Open finalist her first tiebreaker loss of the season.

It is Kvitova’s biggest tournament title since the 2019 Madrid as she makes history as the first Czech woman to lift the Miami Open title.

What a week it was for Kvitova, who saved two set points in her 7-5, 6-4 victory over Sorana Cirstea yesterday and withstood some serious stress in the tiebreaker today.

The 10th-seeded Rybakina ripped 12 aces, won 31 of 39 first-serve points and had several opportunities to close the opener. Rybakina’s 69 aces over this fortnight is the most ever struck by a woman in a WTA 1000 tournament though she looked depleted by the latter stages of the second set.

The two-time Wimbledon winner served for the set at 5-4, but Rybakina rallied. Kvitova couldn’t consistently find her forehand in that game as Rybakina’s returns were both jarring and jamming. Rybakina broke back to level after 10 games.

An empowered Rybakina slammed shut a love hold to edge ahead 6-5 after 39 minutes. Kvitova came right back with a love hold to force the tiebreaker.

The seventh-ranked Rybakina carried a 7-0 tiebreaker record in 2023 into this extra session—and showed the shotmaking under pressure that make her a tiebreak titan.

The 22-minute tiebreaker took tension and set-point pressure to exhilarating height as each woman held a fistful of set points in the breaker.

Rybakina rapped four of her 10 aces in the set in the tiebreaker, including throwing down an ace down the T for a fifth set point at 13-12.

Kvitova cranked a forehand to save it.

Kvitova hit one more winner—17 to 16—in an exceedingly tight set where neither woman could gain much separation. It was Kvitova’s poise and her willingness to keep taking her cracks even after set points slipped through her grip that helped her snatch the 66-minute opening set.

The veteran Czech was an untouchable 23-0 in finals when winning the first set and wasted little time extending her lead.

Kvitova was amping up the pace of her drives as she tore through seven of the first eight points,  breaking for a 2-0 second-set lead.

Holding a 14-13 tiebreaker lead, Kvitova was in control of the ensuing rally only to see Rybakina fire a forehand on the 14th shot to level at 14-14.

Finally, Kvitova unsettled Rybakina with a deep forehand return for a fifth set point at 15-14. This time, Rybakina missed a forehand as Kvitova shook off the disappointment of missed set points at 6-5, 8-7, 10-9 and 14-13 before finally ending a punishing breaker when Rybakina missed a forehand.