Czech Petra Kvitova recovered from a second-set meltdown to beat fellow left-hander Angelique Kerber 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 and capture the Pan Pacific Open yesterday for her second title of the year.
Seventh seed Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, burst from the blocks in the Tokyo final, storming through the first set, but inexplicably suffered the dreaded 0-6 “bagel” in the second.
She quickly rediscovered her poise in the decider, screaming in delight and pumping her fist as she put away a sharp volley to take a 4-0 lead.
The 23-year-old put fifth seed Kerber out of her misery on her fourth match point, a blistering crosscourt forehand ending the German’s resistance after 1 hour and 39 minutes, and giving Kvitova an 11th career singles title.
“I really want to qualify for the end of season championships, but I want to enjoy this feeling first,” said Kvitova, projected to rise from 11th to seventh in the new world rankings and closing in on sixth place in the race for next month’s WTA Championships in Istanbul.
“I felt a bit tired,” Kvitova added after her tour-high 32nd three-set match of the year.
“Angie came back at me, but I tried to stay focused and it’s amazing to win such a big tournament,” she said.
It was Kvitova’s first title since Dubai in February and winning the premier event earned her US$426,000. Kerber, who had been seeking a third title and first of the year, took home US$213,000.
“It’s tough to answer why I play so many three-set matches,” Kvitova said after leveling her head-to-head record with Kerber to 2-2.
“I’ve still not figured out why. I played two-and-a-half hours yesterday [in beating Venus Williams], but that’s not the reason. My game is still up and down, but I keep fighting until the last point,” she added.
Kvitova voiced confidence she could push on and win another Grand Slam title next year.
“After winning Wimbledon I know what it takes,” she said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling and I really want to experience it once more.”
“I have a new fitness coach [Marek Vseticek] and my condition has felt good this week,” she added. “It’s a good sign for me. I have more confidence on court.”
Kerber, who paid dearly for making only 48 percent of her first serves in the final set, was gracious in defeat.
“After the second set I tried to play the same tennis, but she was too good at the end,” the 25-year-old said. “She played aggressively. All credit to her.”
In the doubles final, Taiwanese player Chan Hao-ching and her playing partner, Liezel Huber of the US, were defeated 4-6, 6-0, 11-9 by Zimbabwe’s Cara Black and India’s Sania Mirza.