Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic stunned Kim Clijsters 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the Open Gaz de France on Sunday to win her third career title.
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Clijsters slammed an ace to save a match point but Kvitova converted her second match point with a forehand winner.
”I would like to dedicate this trophy to my grandfather, who passed away last week,” Kvitova said. ”I played for my grandfather. I’m happy I won the tournament for him.”
Clijsters will unseat Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark as the top-ranked player when the new rankings are released on Monday. The outcome does not come as a complete surprise, however. Kvitova has won 16 of 17 matches this season and won the WTA Newcomer of the Year award last season.
”I think in the past matches where I beat her, she showed some of the best tennis but it wasn’t quite consistent,” said Clijsters, who won their two previous meetings. ”Today she was very consistent in her level, so she deserved to win because she was better.”
”You’ve been playing some great tennis over the last year but I think in these last two months you’ve improved so much,” the Australian Open champion told Kvitova on court. ”So I wish you nothing but the best for the future.”
The 20-year-old Kvitova will climb to No. 14 in the rankings on Monday and is a left-hander like her idol Martina Navratilova.
”I played very well against Kim – I’m surprised,” Kvitova said. ”I knew I had to play my game, fast and hard. I had to be the first who made the big shot.”
Kvitova put the top-seeded Clijsters under pressure with her powerful serve and deep shots.
The fourth-seeded Kvitova cracked a forehand return winner to lead 1-0 in the second set. But the Belgian broke back in the next game when Kvitova sent a backhand wide.
Clijsters then missed a routine forehand volley to give the Czech a 4-3 lead.
In the first set, Clijsters dropped serve in the opening game when a backhand slice from Kvitova caught the tape before dropping on the other side of the net.
But Clijsters whipped a backhand pass down the line to break back in the next game.
Kvitova hit a backhand return winner to lead 3-2 and took the first set when Clijsters sent a backhand into the net.
”She was putting so much pressure on me,” Clijsters said. ”She was serving extremely well, so it was very hard for me to return aggressively, which is something you have to do against her.”
Kvitova served 10 aces to only one for Clijsters.
”She has such powerful and easy groundstrokes that come very deep as well,” Clijsters said. ”It’s very hard to get out of that once she’s pushing into that zone.”