Kvitova ends drought with Dubai title
Czech star gets back on track
When Petra Kvitova won her first grand slam title and the season-ending championships in 2011, big things were expected of the Czech tennis player.
It's been a bumpy ride since, as the Czech struggled to live up to expectations last year, but Saturday's victory in the Dubai Tennis Championships final is evidence that the 22-year-old is getting back on track.
Kvitova overcame a mid-match scare to beat last year's French Open finalist Sara Errani 6-2 1-6 6-1 to become the first player from her country to win the $2 million tournament.
"I'm glad how I'm playing right now -- that's the important thing for me," said Kvitova, who had not won two matches in a row at a WTA event since August before last week's Doha tournament.
"I'm not thinking this is a turning point for me. Yes, it was a lot of great players here and it was hard to beat them, but I'm still just thinking about my game. That's the priority."
It was the former Wimbledon champion's first title in six months, and her biggest since the WTA Championships in Istanbul, as the world No. 8 took home the $442,000 first prize.
It capped a big week for Kvitova, who beat former world No. 1 and 2011 Dubai champion Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals after ending the title defense of fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska following a straight-sets win over Ana Ivanovic.
She has bounced back from a shock second-round loss to British teenager Laura Robson at January's Australian Open and a surprise defeat by French wild-card entry Kristina Mladenovic at the Paris Open, winning both matches as the Czechs thrashed Australia in the first match of their Fed Cup title defense.
Fifth seed Errani, ranked one place higher than Kvitova, was blown away in the first set but bounced back to take the second as she adopted a more aggressive game and won six games in a row.
However, the Italian was unable to maintain that momentum and win her first title this year, and seventh of her career.
"I knew I had to keep fighting for every ball, because she was really on fire in the second set and continued that in the third too," said Kvitova, whose coach missed the tournament to go on holiday.
"I was just thinking to not give up and just fight for every point. When it was 2-1 and she missed a volley, I think that was a turning point for me.
"I was quite down after the second set. I just tried to stay positive and just play."
Both players had reached the quarterfinals of the previous tournament in Qatar, where Kvitova lost to new world No. 1 Serena Williams and Errani was beaten by her predecessor Victoria Azarenka.
"This court is very fast, so it's not my favorite court and it's tough for me to play on this court, so making the final is a very good tournament for me," Errani said.
Doha champion Azarenka and runner-up Williams both pulled out of Dubai due to injuries -- the Belorussian before the tournament, and the American just ahead of her opening match.
On the men's ATP World Tour, sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych will play No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's final of the Marseille Open.
Kvitova's compatriot Berdych beat Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-2 6-1, while Tsonga was similarly dominant as he defeated fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2 6-2.
World No. 4 David Ferrer has reached the final of the Copa Claro in Argentina, where he is defending his title.
The Australian Open semifinalist beat compatriot Tommy Robredo 6-3 6-2 on Saturday, while Stanislas Wawrinka beat yet another Spaniard in Nicolas Almagro, winning 6-3 7-5.
The Swiss third seed reached his first final since January 2011, and has a 3-6 record in title matches.