By Sean Farrell, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.
MONTREAL - Rogers Cup finalists Li Na and Petra Kvitova have each won a Grand Slam tournament and both have their share of WTA titles.
Monday night, though, they will be vying for a first for each player; neither has ever won a WTA tournament in North America.
"Yeah, I think that it's really good for me to get known that I can play here," Kvitova said Sunday night after defeating 2010 champion Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Kvitova, a 22-year-old native of the Czech Republic, has seven WTA wins, including the 2011 Wimbledon title when she beat Maria Sharapova in the final.
Li won the 2011 French Open after losing the Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters. She has won five WTA titles.
The 30-year-old Chinese veteran advanced to the final with a come-from-behind 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Lucie Safarova, which saw her trailing 5-1 in the final set.
Li said that she talked to herself to overcome the big hole. The message was the absolute basics.
"Just like, put the ball back in the court," she said. "This is tennis. You have to put ball back to the court and over the net. Looks like easy, but sometimes I couldn't do that, you know. It's simple, but sometimes it's tough to do."
It was Safarova's sixth straight loss to Li.
"Closing out a match is always a little bit of a nervous moment," Safarova said. "I was thinking that because she made quite a lot of mistakes in the games before, so I just didn't put enough pressure. She used that situation to turn it over, and then she was serving very well, just started to play much better, and it just slipped away."
Facing Kvitova in the final makes it a second tough Czech left-hander in a row for Li.
"It's always a little bit tough against a lefty, because the serve is a different speed," Li said. "I played Safarova so many times before. We always have a tough time. We always have a tough match. I know she's a very tough opponent to be against. Also, I think beginning of the match, I mean, I have a lot mistake in the returns, so it give her a lot of chance."
It could prove a decisive edge for Kvitova.
"It depends," Kvitova said. "I think that for the players, they are not playing very often against the left handers. Yeah, I think the serve, it's an advantage because from the left side it's really good to serve wide. That's the different rotation to their backhand."
Wozniacki had a bittersweet day. Despite losing her semifinal, she was buoyed by boyfriend Rory McIlroy's impressive PGA Championship win.
"It's great that Rory won," Wozniacki said. "You know, it's an unbelievable performance by him. I'm very happy for him."