By Dave Gertler
(January 16, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Czech world No. 4 Petra Kvitova has defeated emerging world No.22 Karolina Pliskova in the first all-Czech final at the Apia International on Friday night. It was the first time Kvitova had appeared in a final in Sydney, having lost to the eventual winner Tsvetana Pironkova in the semi-final last year, which was her fourth appearance at the event.
“I’m just glad how I played today,” said Kvitova after her 7-6(5), 7-6(6) win that took just shy of two hours to complete on Ken Rosewall Arena, “I mean, it was very a tough match to really handle it everything. Two tiebreakers, it’s always very difficult. Karolina played really well and she served very well.”
The 22-year-old Pliskova, playing her sixth WTA-level final in the past year – but her first ever final at Premier level – held a break over Kvitova for most of the first set until, while attempting to serve it out at 5-4, her opponent’s return game clicked into gear, and Kvitova was able to break back and force the first set to a tie-break, throughout which she continued to elevate her game and separate herself from her opponent, taking the tie-break 7-5.
“I feel today I must say a little bit tired,” said Pliskova, whose strong serving and follow-up attack game had seen her through to the final only losing one set along the way, “Also in the match I wasn’t that I don’t want to say fast, because I’m not that fast normally, but I felt a little bit tired, not that much power in my serve.”
Throughout the match, Kvitova hit 38 winners, almost doubling her opponent’s figures, and in the second set, it was the dual Wimbledon champ who held an early break before her opponent broke back for 3-3 and held on for a second-set tie-break. A series of double faults and errors by Pliskova gave Kvitova a 5-1 advantage which all but sealed the championship, and although Pliskova then managed to level the score, it was Kvitova who eventually came through an entertaining tie-break, taking it 8-6.
“You know, it was quite weird tiebreak,” said Kvitova, “Because she was serving so well all the match then she did two double faults, so I was a little bit like relaxed and it was fine. I mean, I was still holding my serve pretty well. It’s tiebreak tennis, and you never know what’s going to be there.”
Both the Czech women are seeded, and will play qualifiers in the first round of the Australian Open next week. “I come to Melbourne tomorrow,” said Kvitova, “And I need to forget about the Sydney trophy to be ready and focused for the Melbourne. It’s just really crazy world sometimes in tennis. You really can’t enjoy the title because the next week it’s something different and you have to be prepared already.”
Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler, read his blog, and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .