Petra Kvitova claimed the biggest win of her career and a third title of the season when she upset fourth seed Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in the final of the Madrid Open on Sunday.
The left-handed Czech 16th seed, who broke into the top 10 for the first time yesterday, overpowered Azarenka of Belarus with some booming ground-strokes to add to her successes in Brisbane and Paris.
The 21-year-old squandered a match point on the Azarenka serve at 5-3 in the second set, but made no mistake a game later, before raising both arms aloft in triumph.
The rain that swept over the Spanish capital on Saturday had been replaced by bright sunshine for the final and the sliding roof of the Magic Box Arena had been drawn back to reveal a bright blue sky dotted with whispy clouds.
Kvitova, like Azarenka a tall, aggressive player who likes to dominate opponents, made much the faster start on the sun-bathed court and opened a 3-0 lead after breaking her opponent’s serve in the second game.
Azarenka claimed a break of her own to get the first set back on serve, before Kvitova upped her game to take the tiebreak 7-3 and a one-set lead.
She carried her momentum into the second set, breaking again in the opening game, but both struggled to hold their serve from then on until Kvitova confidently served out for her first win in one of the four premier mandatory events on the WTA Tour.
Azarenka rose one place above French Open champion Francesca Schiavone to No. 4 when the rankings were updated yesterday.
The only left-hander in the top 30 and a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year, Kvitova will climb to 10th from 18th.