WTA Finals SF: (3) Maria Sharapova vs (5) Petra Kvitova
Saturday’s 2nd semi-final in Singapore sees Maria Sharapova come up against Petra Kvitova, a battle between the only former champions competing at the event this week. Maria Sharapova was the standout performer during the group stage, winning all 3 of her matches in the red group. Petra Kvitova’s form was far less convincing but luck was on her side as she managed to sneak through the group stage with only 1 victory. Momentum is certainly on Sharapova’s side heading into this match, Kvitova will need to raise her level dramatically to pull off an unlikely upset victory.
Little was expected of Maria Sharapova this week in Singapore given that she arrived at the event having not won a match since Wimbledon. Maria spent the U.S Open on the sidelines and missed and was unable to complete a match during the Asian swing. However Sharapova has reminded the tennis world that she is the ultimate professional, showing no signs of rust on route to winning all 3 of her group stage matches.
Sharapova started the week with an extremely hard-fought 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Agnieszka Radwanska before claiming an equally impressive 6-4 6-4 win over the top seeded Simona Halep. Sharapova entered her final group match against Flavia Pennetta knowing that she only needed to win 1 set to advance to the semi-finals, Sharapova didn’t seem to take any notice of that, producing a ruthless display of power-hitting tennis to claim a 7-5 6-1 victory. Maria should certainly be considered the favourite to win the title form here, she will be extremely hard to beat.
Petra Kvitova’s form during the group stage has generally been quite poor. Kvitova started the week with a wayward performance, succumbing to Angelique Kerber 2-6 6-7. The crucial match ended up being her 7-5 7-5 victory over Lucie Safarova which would ultimately be the reason she advanced to the semi-finals. Kvitova’s final group stage match was a 4-6 6-4 5-7 loss to Garbine Muguruza. It was a strange match which seemed to lack intensity until an epic finish. Kvitova twice went up a break in the deciding set but was unable to maintain her lead as Garbine came storming back to deny the Czech.
Kvitova’s semi-final hopes seemed all but gone, needing Lucie Safarova to defeat Angelique Kerber in straight sets. However Petra’s Fed Cup teammate did her a massive favour, defeating a frustrated Kerber 6-4 6-3 to send Kvitova through to the semi-finals. Kvitova will need to raise her level dramatically if she is to stop a red-hot Sharapova.
Maria Sharapova holds a 6-3 head-to-head record over Petra Kvitova and has won 5 of the last 6 encounters between the pair. However it was Petra Kvitova won emerged victorious in their most recent match, a 6-3 6-2 victory at the group stage in Singapore last year. Kvitova’s victory broke a string of 5 consecutive losses to Sharapova dating back to the Australian Open in 2012.
Maria Sharapova seems well placed heading into this match. Maria has clearly been the most impressive of the elite 8 this week and with a day of rest she will be ready to rumble on Saturday. Conversely, Kvitova’s form has been lacklustre and she seems low on energy. A 2 and a half hour match on Friday was not ideal preparation. All signs point to a Sharapova victory.