The final of the 2014 WTA China Open is set for Sunday at the National Tennis Centre in Beijing between Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova.
Sharapova eventually made it a winning day for this column on Saturday when the Russian survived an epic final game to seal a 6-0, 6-4 win over Ana Ivanovic and a place in the championship match.
Play begins at 08:00 UK time on Sunday when conditions should be reasonable at around 19C and roughly 40 percent humidity and little wind.
Maria Sharapova vs Petra Kvitova
The lack of wind should help Sharapova in this one, and it might need to, as the Russian was poor on serve in the latter stages of that win over Ivanovic on Saturday.
It seemed to be either an ace or a double fault from Sharapova and doubtless that was caused by only winning a meagre six of 22 (27 percent) of her second serve points in that second set.
She’ll be delighted with her bagel opening set over the Serb though and this final could well be more about the physical condition of her opponent than any technical issues on Sunday.
Kvitova had the trainer and the doctor out in an up and down three set win over Sam Stosur on Saturday and the Czech had her blood pressure taken, which can’t be a great sign for her backers in the final.
I mentioned yesterday that Kvitova hadn’t made finals in consecutive weeks since her 2011 Wimbledon triumph and attempting to do it again in the heat and humidity of Wuhan in particular and Beijing looks to have taken its toll.
Indeed, since that 2011 Wimbledon final when Kvitova defeated Sharapova the Czech hasn’t won a completed match against the Russian, with Maria winning the last four times they’ve met.
The only one this season was on slow hard in Miami back in the spring and again it was the match-up of Sharapova’s solid backhand getting the better of the sometimes-suspect Kvitova forehand that won the day.
Kvitova took an early lead in that one, but was eventually beaten in straight sets and unless she is able to dictate play – which she can against most opponents – it can become a struggle for her and particularly now that she’s likely to be fatigued.
In the circumstances Kvitova could well fade here and the 1.92 about under 21.5 total games looks the call in this one.
Back under 21.5 total games at 1.94