The Czech Petra Kvitova has defeated Germany's Angelique Kerber in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Kvitova recovered from a second-set meltdown to claim her second WTA title of the year.
Seventh seed Kvitova defeated fellow left-hander Kerber 6-2, 0-6, 6-3. The 23-year-old made a fast start in the Tokyo final and stormed through the opening set, using bludgeoning ground strokes before the momentum turned sharply in favor of Kerber, 25.
Kerber broke Kvitova's serve three times in the second set to level the match, but was unable to carry that push into the final set.
Kerber, the fifth seed and ranked ninth in the world, double-faulted to hand Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, a key break in the second game of the third set. The Czech raced to a 4-0 lead but Kerber broke back in the fifth game and then held serve to make it 2-4.
A crosscourt forehand from Kvitova ended the match in one hour and 39 minutes, and handed the champion her 11th career singles title.
"I was just lucky I did a good job at the end," Kvitova said. "Of course, I was feeling a little bit tired. Angie came back in the match and I just tried to focus on the point at hand."
The match levels the pair's head-to-head record at 2-2. "It's tough to answer why I play so many three-set matches," Kvitova said. "I've still not figured why. I played two and a half hours yesterday [in defeating Venus Williams] but that's not the reason. My game is still up and down but I keep fighting until the last point."
Kerber, who only made 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," Kerber said. "She played aggressively. All credit to her."
Saturday's match was the first all-left-handed WTA final since 2009. Both Kvitova and Kerber ousted former world No. 1s in the last four matches.
Kvitova was confident she could win another grand slam title in 2014, and said she was in good shape.
"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. It's a good sign for me. I have more confidence on court."
jr/hc (Reuters, AFP)