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Petra Kvitova vs Kiki Bertens Mutua Madrid Open tennis live: Kvitova targets third Madrid title against first-time finalist Bertens

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 12 May 2018
  • Petra Kvitova vs Kiki Bertens is live from Madrid at 6.30pm local time on Saturday (5.30pm BST)
  • Kvitova won their only previous meeting at Wimbledon in 2015
Petra Kvitova (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitova looks to cap an extraordinary week at the Caja Magica by securing a hat-trick of Mutua Madrid Open titles when she faces first-time finalist Kiki Bertens in the final on Saturday.

On a 10-match winning streak and showing no signs of slowing down, a rampaging Petra Kvitova targets a third Premier Mandatory Mutua Madrid Open title on Saturday against unseeded Dutch powerhouse Kiki Bertens. Both players have already captured clay-court titles prior to advancing to the Madrid title match, with Bertens prevailing on the green clay of Charleston last month, while Kvitova reigned supreme in her native Prague last week. Bertens only took one game in their one and only previous meeting (on the grass of Wimbledon in 2015), but it’s safe to say that match has no bearing on the final showdown in Madrid. Kvitova and Bertens take to court at 6.30pm local time on Saturday (5.30pm BST).

With less than 24 hours to recover after winning her 22nd career WTA title at the J&T Banka Prague Open, not many people expected Kvitova to make much of an impact at the Mutua Madrid Open - a tournament in which she’s won twice before, first taking home the title in 2011 with victories over No. 2 Vera Zvonareva, an unseeded Dominika Cibulkova, No. 6 Na Li and No. 4 Victoria Azarenka, while she was also triumphant in 2015, beating Serena Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova back-to-back to clinch the silverware.

Kvitova defeated Natalia Vikhlyantseva, Katerina Siniakova, Zhang Shuai and Mihaela Buzarnescu to complete an emotional victory in her native Prague, and after a crushing 6-1 6-2 victory of Lesia Tsurenko in the opening round of Madrid the following day, it appeared as if fatigue was settling in and about to spell the end of the Czech’s title hopes in the Spanish capital. Kvitova battled to a scrappy and tense 6-3 7-6(8) win over Rio Olympics gold medalist Monica Puig in the second round, with both players trading horrific unforced errors in the second set tiebreak - and fortunately Kvitova was able to prevail, because there’s no telling what would have happened in a deciding set of that encounter.

After Anett Kontaveit took the opening set of the Round of 16 clash by recovering from a 3-5 deficit, it was looking like the beginning of the end for a tired Kvitova. But somehow, someway, the two-time Wimbledon champion hasn’t relinquished a set since that moment, staging a great fightback to win the next two sets 6-3 6-3 against Kontaveit before delivering a fearsome and intimidating performance to take out Indian Wells and Dubai runner-up Daria Kasatkina by a 6-4 6-0 scoreline, firing 26 winners to just 18 unforced errors in the process. Next up for Kvitova was an all-Czech showdown in the semi-finals against Karolina Pliskova - the Stuttgart champion who was also heading into the final four on a nine-match winning streak. But it was Kvitova’s brand of powerful and aggressive tennis that shone brightest on the day, with the 28-year-old making it three wins from three over Pliskova, hitting 32 winners on her way to a 7-6(4) 6-3 victory.

Before last week, Kvitova had only won two clay-court titles in her career, and they both came in Madrid, while she’s only been past the Round of 16 once at the French Open and never before as she gone beyond the quarter-finals of Rome - the two other biggest clay events on the calendar. However, the altitude in Madrid is of great benefit to the hard-hitting Czech, and Kvitova said as much in her post-match press conference after beating Pliskova.

"Obviously the altitude [in Madrid] is helping me, for sure," Kvitova told the media.” The balls are a little bit flying more. But on the other hand, I think I'm feeling good on the clay. I had great matches so far on the clay. I'm pretty satisfied with the movement, as well."

Looking to add a third Mutua Madrid Open title to her trophy cabinet - and secure a fourth title of 2018 following triumphs in St. Petersburg, Doha and Prague, Kvitova next faces a woman who could be classified as one of the few remaining clay-court specialists in modern tennis.

Kiki Bertens (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
Kiki Bertens has won all five of her WTA titles on clay, including the Morocco Open in 2012, the Nuremberg Cup in 2016 and 2017, the Ladies Championship in Gstaad in 2018 and the Volvo Car Open on the green clay of Charleston last month, while she also made the final of Gstaad in 2016. That was the same season that Bertens advanced to her one and only Grand Slam semi-final to date, reaching the final four of the French Open by defeating the likes of Angelique Kerber, Camila Giorgi, Daria Kasatkina, Madison Keys and Timea Bacsinszky before going down in a tight 7-6(7) 6-4 loss to Serena Williams.

Bertens made the semi-finals of Rome last season and the quarter-finals of Madrid, but she’s surpassed her previous best showing at the Caja Magica with a series of swashbuckling performances this week, registering a pair of top 10 victories over second seed and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and seventh seed Caroline Garcia in Friday’s semi-finals. Bertens, currently ranked 20 in the world and set to rise to at least No. 15 (and No. 12 if she wins the Madrid title) also beat five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Maria Sharapova and previous Madrid semi-finalist Anastasija Sevastova on her way to the final, but it was her 6-2 6-2 victory over Garcia (the same scoreline in which she conquered Wozniacki) that was arguably her most impressive, keeping focus and her nerve to sail into her first Premier Mandatory final.

"After first set, I calm down a bit. I really liked that today,” Bertens said. “Right now I'm just really happy, happy about my performance the whole week. I'm just trying to go there again tomorrow and do the same, then we will see. But right now I'm just enjoying it."

And, if you need further evidence of Bertens’ clay-court prowess, take a look at these numbers. The Dutchwoman won a total of 29 WTA main draw singles matches in 2017 and 22 of them came on clay, while 17 of her 26 match wins in 2016 were also on the dirt. Indeed, Bertens has an overall record of 15-8 so far in 2018 - but she’s an almost-perfect 11-1 on clay, with her only blemish coming against eventual champion Karolina Pliskova in the opening round of Stuttgart after she previously toppled the likes of Alize Cornet, Madison Keys and Julia Goerges to win the Charleston crown.

As mentioned at the start of the article, Kvitova and Bertens have only played once before on tour - and it came three years ago on the lawns of Wimbledon, with Kvitova prevailing 6-1 6-0 in the opening round. Obviously that match doesn’t mean anything in relation to Saturday’s final, with Bertens a completely different beast on clay and generally just a better player since then. I keep waiting for Kvitova to hit a wall, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that she won’t. Given the fact she’s won two Madrid titles and loves the conditions inside the Caja Magica - and the fact she’s done the bulk of the hard work in just reaching the final - I’ve got to lean with Kvitova to take home the silverware for the third time. It will be another battle of power tennis, and while Bertens has proven she can produce the sort of tennis that is capable of winning this Premier Mandatory title, she is also playing in her first final at this level - and that could affect her. I’m backing Kvitova to complete a dream week and register her 11th win on the trot.

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Petra Kvitova vs Kiki Bertens Mutua Madrid Open tennis live: Kvitova targets third Madrid title against first-time finalist Bertens

Petra Kvitova looks to cap an extraordinary week at the Caja Magica by securing a hat-trick of Mutua Madrid Open titles when she faces first-time finalist Kiki Bertens in the final on Saturday.

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