Petra Kvitova turned back the clock this past week in Miami as the 33-year-old defeated the nearly-unbeatable Elena Rybakina 7-6 (14), 6-2 for the championship at the Miami Open on Saturday. It is the biggest title for Kvitova since her 2018 victory in Madrid. On her way to the title, Kvitova defeated fellow seeds Donna Vekic and Ekaterina Alexandrova in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively before taking down 2013 National Bank Open finalist Sorana Cirstea (who also seems to have suddenly discovered the fountain of youth in her thirties) and then, of course, the 10th-seeded Rybakina in the finals. The opening set was a battle for the ages that included a 22-minute tiebreak eventually won by Kvitova.
As my Match Point Canada co-host Ben Lewis tweeted out following her victory, Kvitova is one of the nicest players on the WTA Tour and after what she’s been through off the court, it’s remarkable she’s even playing tennis let alone still winning titles. The future Hall of Famer has got thirty of them now and if her play over the last few weeks is any indication, she’s clearly capable of adding to that already impressive number.
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Speaking after her victory to WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen, Kvitova shared that, “It’s amazing that this is my 13th Miami Open and it feels just like yesterday [I played my first]. It’s amazing. I’m just very happy that I can still compete with the best and be at the highest level.”
As the tennis world has been intrigued by the thought of a “Big Three” forming on the women’s tour with Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elena Rybakina, it was the veteran Kvitova who reminded us all of the depth that exists in women’s tennis and that players of her calibre are not going to just stand by and watch the three above-mentioned players have all the fun!
Kvitova’s victory denied Rybakina the rare Sunshine Double – capturing Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back – a feat that had only been accomplished five times before in the women’s game. Here are the players who have accomplished that in previous years – quite a list of champions to be sure.
Steffi Graf 1994
Steffi Graf 1996
Kim Clijsters 2005
Vika Azarenka 2016
Iga Swiatek 2022
OTHER MIAMI MOMENTS:
Jessica Pegula continues to deliver consistent results in both singles and doubles. She made the finals in Qatar earlier this season falling to a resurgent Barbora Krejcikova and made it to the semifinals here in Miami in singles as well as capturing the doubles title with fellow American Coco Gauff. Over the past year Pegula has truly established herself as an elite level player and the fact that she can do it both individually and with a partner speaks to the depth in her game and confidence she’s feeling as well.
The talent emerging on the WTA Tour seems to know no bounds. In Miami, 22-year-old Anastasia Potapova had a breakout tournament where she reached the quarter-finals after big wins over the likes of Gauff and Qinwen Zheng before falling to Pegula in a third-set tiebreak. Potapova won the Linz Open earlier this year and will be one to watch as the season progresses.
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The vets were at it as well in Miami. Aside from Kvitova, how about 32-year-old Sorana Cirstea making her way to the semifinals. The 2013 National Bank Open finalist (lost to Serena Williams) has been playing some terrific tennis that now has her ranking up to No. 41 on the WTA.
Things were progressing so well for Bianca Andreescu through the first half of the Miami draw. A big-time second-round win over Maria Sakkari that lasted over three hours and then a straight sets win vs 2020 Aussie Open champ Sofia Kenin showed us signs that Bianca’s game was indeed returning to the form that saw her make the finals in Miami just two years ago.
Instead of being able to see where that momentum might take her, she rolled her ankle in her round of 16 battle against Ekaterina Alexandrova and dropped to the court in agony screaming out, “not again!” Fans of the 22-year-old were no doubt having similar feelings as Andreescu has already had more than her share of injury troubles in her relatively young professional career.
I spoke with her agent Charlotte Lawler in the aftermath and was reassured by the following comments that she shared with me in the hours after the injury.
“Things are definitely not as bad as we feared and she’s ready to put in the work to get back on court as quickly as possible.”
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Bibi fans must also have been somewhat relieved when Andreescu herself took to social media the next day to share an update about the two ligaments that she tore in her left ankle while nonetheless appearing optimistic about her road to recovery.
We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to her return to action as soon as she’s healed up and able.
Leylah Annie Fernandez made it to the doubles final alongside recent partner Taylor Townsend before falling to the No. 2 seeded Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula who emerged as champions with a 7-6(6), 6-2 victory.
Although unseeded, the Fernandez/Townsend partnership is showing some serious chemistry in their short time together. It also stands to reason that we might see Fernandez partner Gaby Dabrowski once again in Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers April 14-15th vs Belgium.
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