Doha Dispatch: Final pits Kvitova's win streak vs Muguruza's freshness

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The Czech knocked off world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets on Saturday. (AP)

DOHA — On Saturday, Petra Kvitova made it 12 straight wins thanks to a courageous effort against world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. With a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 comeback performance, Kvitova moved into her first-ever Qatar Total Open final.

In the second set, Wozniacki was up 5-4, 6-5 and then 3-1 in the tiebreaker. 

“Definitely disappointing when I had a chance to serve it out twice in that second set,” Wozniacki said. “She played aggressively and I made a few unforced errors. I felt that was frustrating because I had my opportunities there.”

Wozniacki hasn't gotten a break in Qatar. On Friday, she needed over two hours to beat Angelique Kerber, while Kvitova got some much-needed rest when Julia Goerges retired with a hip injury.

Speaking of rest, the world No. 21's next task will be a well-rested Garbine Muguruza. The world No. 4 didn’t have to take to the court for her semifinal at all because Simona Halep withdrew.

"What I can say? It's probably good for her," Kvitova said. "It's not really easy to play night match. But I don't really know what's in her mind when she has a day off. So I don't really care. I think tomorrow will be another day, another match."

Since losing a surprising first-round in Melbourne to Andrea Petkovic almost exactly one month ago, Kvitova has gone undefeated. She has piled up 10 straight WTA wins and two Fed Cup victories (with a title in St. Petersburg along the way).

The wins are doing wonders for her confidence and ranking, but adding to her exhaustion thanks to the relentless grind of match after match.

"I feel almost everything on my body, not my fingers and my hand, which is great," Kvitova said. 

It’s a good problem to have, especially given that just a year ago she was off the tour, dealing with a long recovery from a knife attack that left her left (playing) hand badly injured. 

"I came back already, which it's good. I'm playing," Kvitova said. "I still do have some flashbacks sometimes of the past and what happened. But it's not that often as it used to be. So that's good thing as well for me mentally."

A lot is on the line for the Czech, despite her lower seeding. With a win on Sunday, she’ll return to the Top 10 for the first time since June 2016. 

"I expect if I gonna play well, my ranking will go a little bit better. But I think I'm not really thinking about the Top 10. I'm thinking about the final," Kvitova said. "I'm really proud that I'm still in the draw. I could have lost twice already, at least. And I'm still here, so that's very amazing for me."

Though Muguruza will have the physical advantage, Kvitova has the head-to-head edge, 3-1, including a straight-set win at the US Open last year. 

"She's aggressive player," Kvitova said. "I think that she will try to put the pressure on me, and that's what I'm going to try as well. So it will be kind of similar game plans. I'm just going to try to be the first one who is going to push her."

The Spaniard has a very different match tally going into the final. She had an abysmal 2-3 record before Doha, with two of those losses being uncompleted matches. 

"That's why I came here looking for as many matches as possible and facing the top players, and especially, like you say, at the beginning of the year it wasn't [going] my way," Muguruza said. "Now I can turn things around and feel better."

She's assured of rise up to No. 3, win or lose. 


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