By Ros Satar, in Stuttgart
- Angelique Kerber  def. Petra Kvitova  6-4 4-6 6-2
- Second straight Stuttgart final & shot at defending a title for the first time in her career
STUTTGART, GERMANY – A high quality battle saw defending champion Angelique Kerber edge past Petra Kvitova for the first final berth at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
Angelique Kerber  def. Petra Kvitova  6-4 4-6 6-2
There were tentative looking starts from both as they tried to get the measure of each other, on this slicker surface than they might expect over the rest of the season, and Kvitova’s cause certainly was not helped when she nullified some brutal returning with three double faults to gift Kerber the first break of the match.
The German has impressed with her focus, and really has seemed to learnt to embrace the pressure that potentially comes with being a defending champion in her home tournament, as she saved three break points, and further pushed the Czech back with a second break. A brief lapse saw her broken to love, as Kvitova salvaged one of the breaks but the gap was enough for Kerber to keep a grip on the first set.
The second set was perhaps a little more perplexing for both – they were both continuing to play well … just not at the same time, with Kvitova breaking at the very end to take the set into a decider.
With both of them leaving the court, Kerber returned a little earlier, drinking in the crowd as a song that she chose to sing along to in last year’s final, in the midst of her coach’s advice no less, was playing. In that moment though, you had a sense that she was really drawing on the crowd for the energy she spoke of after her quarter-final win – thankfully without the singing.
It worked though as she broke at the start of the third, and even though Kvitova hollered her way to a break, the new improved Kerber pushed for her advantage again, breaking twice for a 5-2 lead. Kvitova was not quite done, pulling up three break points, but it had really been the tone of the match that the Czech could not quite get over the finish line – whereas Kerber needed the single match point to set herself up for a great chance of defending a title for the first time in her career.
Kvitova had to admit that her serving had been a factor as well as fatigue, saying:
“I’m tired right now but I feel that the game which we really played was amazing. Few rallies was just great and I feel that Angie just plays so good today and was really difficult to stay in the third set.
“Unfortunately I didn’t hold my serve in the next game [after a break at the end of the second set] which I think was really the main thing of the third. And then I felt like I had no real energy left. I was really trying but when I didn’t put a serve in, was so difficult. She returned very well, played some really good game and I just felt I am not really able to stay there.”
Kerber continues to take the process in her stride for now, and she once more acknowledged how the crowd had been a supporting factor for her.
“I was a little bit down after the second set, and then I was just trying to focusing again, and just pushing myself and the crowd gives me so much energy to do that.
“I was thinking a little bit about last year because it was the same, that the crowd pushed me in the quarters and also in the final last year, where I really feel the energy and it was the same this year.
“That’s why I really try to take the energy from them and just trying to play point by point, and trying to win against Petra because you never know what’s happened. You must play against her up to the last point. I was trying this and I’m happy about my performance then in the third.”
Kerber at least gets to sit and watch the match with her feet up, as compatriot Laura Siegemund takes on top seed Agnieszka Radwanska for a shot at the title.
She said: I think it will be good semis. Laura has nothing to lose. She will for sure [be] going out and trying to beat Aga but as well Aga will try to get in the final here. So I think it will be a good match from both of them and I will [be] watching the match on the TV and getting ready for my final tomorrow.”
The final will take place at the Porsche Arena on Sunday.
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