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Garbine Muguruza vs Petra Kvitova Qatar Total Open tennis live: Can Kvitova edge Muguruza for back-to-back titles in Doha?

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 17 Feb 2018
  • Garbine Muguruza faces Petra Kvitova in the final of the Qatar Total Open on Sunday
  • Muguruza vs Kvitova Qatar Total Open tennis is live from Doha on Sunday at 6pm local/3pm GMT
Garbine Muguruza (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitova brings a 12-match winning streak to her Qatar Total Open final against world no. 4 Garbine Muguruza in Doha on Sunday.

Wimbledon champions Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza face off for the Qatar Total Open trophy in Doha on Sunday in what promises to be a blockbuster final.

Both women have found recent form after a disappointing January, which saw Muguruza retire in Brisbane, give a walkover in Sydney and lose in the second round of the Australian Open, while Kvitova had to pull out of Brisbane, lost in the second round of Sydney and suffered an 8-10 defeat in the third set against Andrea Petkovic in the first round in Melbourne. 

Muguruza and Kvitova responded in very different ways, however. Muguruza opted to take a few weeks for solid practice and work to get fit before returning to action at the Qatar Total Open, where she reunited with compatriot Conchita Martinez – another Wimbledon champion, and one whose guidance was crucial for Muguruza during the Spaniard’s run to her second Grand Slam title last year. While Sam Sumyk remains Muguruza’s main coach, Martinez’s influence clearly has a good influence on the world no. 4, who recorded authoritative victories over Duan Ying-Ying and Sorana Cirstea to make the quarterfinals in Doha. It looked like her run might end when Caroline Garcia played a very impressive set against her in those quarterfinals, looking like she’s cracked the code on how to defeat Muguruza by repeatedly stretching the Spanish player wide to the forehand. But Muguruza rebounded, taking some power off the ball but taking it even earlier, serving better and going for winners at the right moments, but settling in for relentless pounding from the baseline when she had to. 

The final two sets of the quarterfinal against Garcia were some very impressive tennis from Muguruza and raised expectations for a mouthwatering semifinal against Simona Halep – but the Romanian announced on Friday that despite a victory over Cici Bellis in the quarters, a right foot injury (the same one which dogged her throughout her Australian Open campaign) meant that she had to pull out of the tournament, giving Muguruza a walkover into the final.

That could be good news or bad news for Muguruza – her rhythm has been disrupted and she might not be as match-tough for the final as she otherwise might have been, but on the other hand she will be a lot physically fresher than Kvitova, who has played so much tennis of late and for whom fatigue is clearly becoming a factor.

That’s because while Muguruza went back to the practice court after her Australian Open defeat, Kvitova responded quite differently. Not currently a top-10 player as she continues to recover from the six months of 2017 she missed after undergoing surgery to reconstruct her playing hand after knife wounds, Kvitova took a wildcard into the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy after the Australian Open and promptly romped to the title, beating Jelena Ostapenko, Julia Goerges and defending champion Kristina Mladenovic. Then she extended her winning streak to seven straight matches with wins over Viktorija Golubic and Belinda Bencic in Fed Cup before making a brutally quick turnaround to Doha, where she had no first-round bye. After blitzing through wildcard Cagla Buyukakcay, Kvitova won a three-set battle with former world no. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska before maintaining her dominance over Elina Svitolina in the third round.

The Czech benefited from a retirement from Goerges in the quarterfinals when she was leading by a set and a break, which was perhaps fortunate for her as she needed all of her energy to record a brilliant comeback win against Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday. Kvitova had won her last three matches against Wozniacki and has a clear power advantage over the Dane and off the ground, but Wozniacki is on a high after winning the Australian Open and reclaiming the world no. 1 ranking and her confidence showed as she weathered an early storm of crisp hitting from Kvitova. Unfazed when the Czech broke back immediately after Wozniacki earned her initial break for 4-2, Wozniacki pressured Kvitova into double faults and served out the set as Kvitova made her sixteenth unforced error.

Wozniacki seemed in total control when she served for the match not once but twice in the second set – and even led 3-1 in the ensuing tie break. But Kvitova reeled off seven phenomenal points to level the match and increasingly played some of her best attacking tennis throughout a grueling third set despite visible fatigue, eventually serving the match out at her second opportunity after two hours and 37 minutes.

It is a major question how much energy Kvitova will have for Sunday’s final – Muguruza won’t make her hit anywhere near as many balls as Wozniacki did, which will help the Czech, but such an intense and emotional comeback victory on Saturday has to have a draining effect. Both women traditionally perform well in finals – Muguruza is 5-3 and has won her last four, Kvitova is 21-7 and has won her last three – and Kvitova, as well as being on a real roll at the moment, enjoys a 3-1 head-to-head against the Spaniard, with her vicious left-handed angles and extremely lethal cross-court backhand helping to expose Muguruza’s error-prone forehand wing. Normally the advantage would decidedly be with Kvitova – but with the Czech having played so much recent tennis, could Muguruza be poised to take her first title of 2018 with a solid performance?

Muguruza vs Kvitova Qatar Total Open tennis is live from Doha on Sunday at 6pm local/3pm GMT

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Garbine Muguruza vs Petra Kvitova Qatar Total Open tennis live: Can Kvitova edge Muguruza for back-to-back titles in Doha?

Wimbledon champions Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova face off for the Doha final – Kvitova is on a 12-match winning streak but fatigue could be a factor: WTA Qatar Total Open tennis live from Doha

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