The 13th visit was the charm for Petra Kvitova, who posted a stellar 7-6 (14), 6-2 victory over red-hot Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s final to win the Miami Open for the first time.
The 15th-seeded Kvitova had 29 winners against 14 unforced errors in one hour and 42 minutes while winning her 30th career title.
The Czech Republic star had reached the Miami quarterfinals three times previously before landing the breakthrough crown this year. The victory also will move Kvitova back into the Top 10 for the first time since September 2021.
Kvitova’s victory was fueled by prevailing in the 30-point tiebreaker in the first set.
“I’m still surprised,” Kvitova said. “I think the tiebreak was the deciding angle. … The tiebreak was the longest of my career. To be honest, I have no idea how I did it.”
The 10th-seeded Rybakina was aiming to win the “Sunshine Double” after winning the first half at Indian Wells in March. She had won 13 consecutive matches before losing in the final.
The Kazakh had 12 aces but committed more unforced errors (24) than winners (22). Her first-serve percentage was just 54 percent compared to Kvitova’s 76 percent.
“Obviously it’s gonna come the day you’re gonna lose, so I don’t really count on that,” Rybakina said of her winning streak ending. “But of course it’s not easy — I would say that it’s mostly physically just because you travel a lot and the conditions are changing all the time.”
Kvitova and Rybakina engaged in an intense marathon first-set tiebreaker. Both players had five set points but it was Kvitova who finally converted to take the set in 67 minutes.
“Because I won the tiebreaker I think emotionally I was on the better side than Elena,” Kvitova said. “The tiebreak was something amazing.”
Kvitova, 33, seemed more fresh than the 23-year-old Rybakina at the outset of the second match by winning the first three games and sailing through the set.
Finishing it off strong was pleasing to Kvitova because it meant finally getting that elusive win in Miami.
“Definitely it’s not the heat. I hate it. Who knows, right?” Kvitova said of her history in South Florida. “I think I played already very well in Indian Wells, and I just kept going here, trying to focus on every match. I had very good opponents during the tournament, which Elena is as well, for sure.
“I think that the serve really helped me, a little bit faster courts here with the faster balls, which I think suits my game.”
Kvitova is the oldest Miami champion since Serena Williams (also 33) won in 2015.
–Field Level Media