Kvitova defeats Li for Montreal title

August 13, 2012 11:51 PM
Petra Kvitova celebrates her win over Li Na in the final of the Rogers Cup.

MONTREAL (AP) -- Winning the women's Rogers Cup was a breakthrough for Petra Kvitova.

Not only was it the 22-year-old Czech's first WTA Tour victory of the year, it was also the first of her eight career titles that was won in North America.

"I hope it will continue,'' said Kvitova, who said this week she has had trouble winning in North America because the high humidity affects her asthma. "North America is always tough for me and I'm so glad how I played here this week.''

Kvitova defeated China's Li Na 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in a 2-hour, 17-minute final on Monday night.

The tournament is also at the start of the hard-court season leading into the US Open at the end of the month.

"It's great,'' said Kvitova, who won six titles last year, including Wimbledon. "I finally won a title this year. It was a good final, a good fight from both sides.''

The win avenged a loss to Li at Sydney this year and evened their all-time matchup at two victories.

"It was a tough match, this was a tennis war,'' Li said. "Both players played good.

"She's very tough. She plays the ball so deep. I felt I was always on defense. The last two matches I felt I could be aggressive on the court, but this one I felt I was 70 percent of the time on defense.''

The match pitted two Grand Slam champions from 2011, as Li took the French Open. Li is 0-3 in tournament finals this year.

Kvitova, seeded fifth, struggled at the start, hitting several balls long. She fell behind 3-1 before she found the range with her forehand and charged back to take the lead.

Even then, she needed to save three break points to take a 6-5 lead, then won the set on her fifth break point against the 10th-seeded Li.

Li took the first 16 points of the second set to grab a 4-0 lead before Kvitova finally held serve.

But Kvitova got her game back for the third, hammering shots deep in the hard court that Li could not return. Li didn't help herself by hitting two easy smashes into the net.

Her serve was broken at 3-2 when she doubled faulted, then had a return fly wide off the rim of her racket.

"Between the second and third sets when I was in the locker room changing my clothes, I knew I had to attack the balls and play much faster than in the second set, and have a better first serve percentage,'' said Kvitova, who punctuated the win with an ace on match point.

Kvitova reached the final with a three-set victory over seventh-seeded Caroline Wozniacki.

Li had a tougher route, getting past Eugenie Bouchard, eighth-seeded Sara Errani and second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska just to reach the semifinals. There she roared back from a 5-1 third-set deficit to defeat Lucie Safarova.

Some star players also either skipped or withdrew from the tournament, including Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.