With a masterclass in the Wuhan final, Petra Kvitova reminds us what she is capable of
Irrepressible. Unrelenting. Merciless.
No matter how many adjectives one comes up with, it still falls short of doing justice to the kind of stupendous display that Petra Kvitova put up against Dominika Cibulkova in the final of the Wuhan Open in China on Saturday. Seeded 14th, the Czech blasted her way past the 10th seeded Slovakian for a 6-1, 6-1 victory that awarded her the Wuhan title for the second time in her career.
Consider Kvitova’s match statistics – 28 winners, 9 aces, 96% of first serve points won, 6 out of 7 break points converted.
A sweet roll back to old times
It was ‘dominance of the highest quality, very much reminiscent of her jaw-dropping performance at the 2014 Wimbledon final. There, Eugenie Bouchard had to bear the brunt in her maiden Slam final, this time, it was Cibulkova.
And by no means, the Slovakian is a pushover. The former Australian Open runner-up is in the midst of one of her best seasons in which she has already won two titles and reached two more finals prior to Wuhan.
In contrast, Kvitova was the one who had struggled mightily throughout 2016 and failed to reach any final before coming to China. But it was the Czech who reminded us once more this week what she is capable of if she really plays to her potential.
Sparks of the talent that gave her two Wimbledon titles were evident for the entirety of the week and those simply gathered momentum after she managed to hold her nerves for a gritty, nail-biting three-set win over the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber in the third round. It goes without saying that one win evoked the champion inside her that had been in slumber for the better part of this year.
Kvitova awoke and how! She dropped just 10 games in her next two rounds en route to the final, notching up her maiden win over the World No. 5 Simona Halep in the semi-finals.
Suddenly she was looking every bit the multiple Grand Slam winner that she is!
If one ever needs to pick a stretch of any match to point out the aggressive Kvitova’s sustained brilliance, then it has to be the first four games of the final. From serving superbly to returning accurately to moving effortlessly and making forays into the net at will, Kvitova did not put a foot wrong in the first four games where she went up 4-0.
She served 5 aces and made sure that Cibulkova won just one point in those four games. Yes, just ONE!
Everything that she was touching, was turning into gold! Cibulkova, who is set to break back into the top 10, was just a puppet in the hands of the inexorable Kvitova, who was in no mood to stop.
On another level
It would be a blasphemy not to watch the highlights of that masterclass if anybody missed it live.
During the course of the 1 hour 2 minutes that they played, there was only one game where Kvitova looked something close to being humane. That came in the fifth game of the first set.
Her serve blinked and stuttered for just one game and her confidence looked shaken for just a few seconds. But this was a Kvitova on a mission to make up for all the lost time and opportunities.
The southpaw could not afford to make another such mistake and regrouped immediately. If Cibulkova expected a reprieve in the second set, she was in for a shock. This was the deadly, devastating and lethal Kvitova she was facing who, even if she hit with her eyes closed, could still find the lines.
As her backhand found the net on match point, the ordeal was over for Cibulkova. And for Kvitova, there was no better way to answer her detractors.
She had thundered a whopping 143 winners in the last four rounds and her victims included the No. 1 Kerber, the No. 13 Johanna Konta, the No. 5 Halep and now the No. 12 Cibulkova.
This was desperately needed in a year that has seen her part ways with two coaches and tumble out of the top 10. This was a timely reminder that she can still become a tornado of unimaginable magnitude and sweep away everyone in her way if she sets her heart and mind to it.
Welcome back, PeakPetra! You were sorely missed!