Kvitova, Azarenka meet in WTA Championships final

Istanbul: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will meet Victoria Azarenka in the final of the WTA Championships on Sunday.

Kvitova rallied to defeat U.S. Open winner Samantha Stosur of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 Saturday, and Azarenka of Belarus defeated Vera Zvonareva of Russia 6-2, 6-3.

The winner of Sunday`s match will move to second in the rankings, behind No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Kvitova took early leads in the second and third sets with a power game that has propelled her from outside the top 30 at the start of the year to No. 3. Leading 5-0 in the third, the Czech withstood a three-game run by Stosur to serve out the match.

Azarenka`s solid groundstrokes forced errors from Zvonareva, who was never able to gain momentum in the match. Zvonareva held two break points in the last game, but could not convert them.

Kvitova played aggressively, hitting big serves and groundstrokes and moving forward to the net. In the first set, Stosur capitalized on a pair of service breaks and her own strong kick serve.

"It was very tough to break her," Kvitova said. "It was a great match for us."

She said she planned to work on her fitness in the offseason and keep her aggressive style.

"I have to go for the winners. It`s the only way for me," she said.

At 21, Kvitova was the youngest of the four semifinalists and hadn`t dropped a set in the round-robin phase of the $4.9 million WTA Championships. She beat Stosur in their two previous meetings, including a tough third-round win at the Australian Open this year and a comfortable victory at the 2008 French Open.

In the first set, the Czech broke Stosur`s serve in the first game, sealing it with a service return winner. The set stayed on serve until 4-3, when Stosur broke back on a flurry of errors by Kvitova. The Australian broke again and won the set 7-5 on a well-constructed point in which she hit two strong forehands and moved forward to put a smash into the open court.

In the second set, Kvitova went up a break early, and her attacking play again found its groove. She held for 5-3 with an angled forehand volley. Stosur dumped a groundstroke into the net on a set point in the next game.

Stosur said the momentum shifted during the match, and she was just "trying to hang in there" during the first three or four games when Kvitova was at her best. She said playing the left-handed Kvitova is difficult.

"She`d be hard anyway, regardless of whether she`s lefty or right-handed," said Stosur, who praised the Czech for her achievements this year. "She`s got the game where you will see a flurry of errors, but she`ll flip it over and you`ll see that streak of winners."

Stosur plans to take two or three weeks off before preparing for the first Grand Slam in January. Despite the loss, she said she was pleased with how she played against Kvitova.

"This was definitely my best match against her so far," she said. "At least I was able to come off the court knowing that I did everything I could."

Kvitova, who was making her debut at the WTA Championships, beat Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon final. She has won four other titles this year, including Brisbane, Paris indoors, Madrid and Linz.

Stosur, who defeated Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final, was playing in the semifinals of the championships for the second straight year.

The WTA and BNP Paribas, the title sponsor, announced Saturday a joint donation of $250,000 to the Turkish Red Crescent to assist victims of the earthquake in eastern Turkey that killed at least 580 people on Oct. 23.

The WTA Championships will be played in Istanbul through 2013.

Bureau Report

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