Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka faced each other for one of the biggest clay-court titles on the WTA Tour.
In 2010, one of the biggest breakout performances on the WTA Tour by a young player came at Wimbledon, where unseeded 20-year-old Petra Kvitova reached the semifinals. That run helped propel her to a year-end Top-40 finish and Newcomer of the Year accolades. The Czech came out blazing in 2011. She won two titles the first two months of the season, and as the tour turned to clay, reached a third final in Madrid.
The 16th seed would have a tough match-up on her hands in the form of the fourth seed, Victoria Azarenka. Having already taken two titles on the year as well, Azarenka advanced to the final with the loss of only one set.
In their last match at Wimbledon in 2010, Kvitova took the second set of that straight set win 6-0. The Czech came out to this final looking like she was going replicate that feat as she raced to a 3-0 lead behind an early break. Azarenka managed to get the set back on serve and the two went on to a tiebreak. Azarenka went up 3-2, but Kvitova rallied to take the next five points and capture the first set.
As solid as the two players were in holding serve the first set, the opposite was true in the second. There were four breaks before Kvitova went up 5-3 and earned a match point against Azarenka’s serve. The Belarusian held, forcing Kvitova to serve for the biggest title of her young career. Any chance of nerves showing was put to rest as Kvitova didn’t drop a point in the final game, clinching the set, 6-4, and the title. The victory also lifted Kvitova into the Top 10 for the first time.
On her way to the final, Azarenka didn’t face a seeded player.
Kvitova’s third title of the year came under a third different playing condition as she won Brisbane outdoors on hard courts and the Open GDF Suez in France on indoor hard courts.
Of Azarenka’s 14 career finals, this was her fourth contested at the Tier 1/Premier Mandatory level. Her record dropped to 2-2 in those matches.
The last time players from the Czech Republic won three singles titles in a campaign was 2005, and it took two to accomplish the feat: Lucie Safarova in Forest Hills and Estoril, and Klara Koukalova in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
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