Petra Kvitova rallies to reach Miami final for first time in 13 tries

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Petra Kvitova staved off two set points in the opening set and dominated the rest of the match to post a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Sorana Cirstea on Friday to reach the Miami Open final for the first time in her stellar career.

The 15th-seeded Kvitova had reached the quarterfinals three previous years but has finally made it to the title match in her 13th attempt in Miami. She will play 10th-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in Saturday’s final.

“I waited quite long to be in the final here,” Kvitova said. “I’m happy I made it, finally.”

Kvitova, 33, had seven aces in one hour, 41 minutes while ousting the Romanian, who was playing in her first semifinal since 2013 in Toronto.

Once Kvitova got rolling, she controlled play while beating Cirstea for the seventh time in 11 career meetings.

“She had a few set points. I think when I turned it around, it was a different story. I felt more confidence and felt as if I can’t miss and she was a little bit missing (her shots).”

Cirstea, who turns 33 on April 7, got off to a hot start with a 5-2 lead before Kvitova staged the comeback. When Cirstea lead 5-3, she had two set points and the Czech won both and eventually won the game. She also won the next three games to claim the set.

Kvitova jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second set to make it seven consecutive games won. Cirstea pulled within 5-4 before Kvitova closed it out.

“At 5-3, 40-15, she came up with two great returns,” Cirstea said. “I thought I served well. The only thing I can say maybe I should have picked the other side.

“But it goes like this, and then like she really started swinging. For a few games, I think maybe four, I dropped the level. Then as I mentioned, when I came back, it was too late.”

Kvitova will be looking for her 30th career singles title. The only active player to win more WTA crowns is Venus Williams (49).

Kvitova and Rybakina have split two previous meetings.

“It’s 1-1 so we’re going to decide it tomorrow,” Kvitova said. “She’s definitely the favorite. She’s playing amazing tennis.”

Kvitova’s win over Rybakina came earlier this year in the first round of the Adelaide International in Australia.

“She played really well, but it was much faster courts there,” Rybakina said of the match with Kvitova. “I think it’s gonna be different … but for sure it’s a lot physically, because here the courts are quite slow, especially after, I think, rain. When it’s that humid, it’s not easy.”

Rybakina is looking to complete the “Sunshine Double.” She won at Indian Wells earlier this month.

She reached the Miami final by defeating third-seeded Jessica Pegula 7-6 (3), 6-4 on Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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