September 29, 2014

Same Old...

A lot has happened on the WTA Tour since Wimbledon -- Caroline Wozniacki cemented her comeback, Serena Williams put an end to her Major-less year, Na Li retired. So with things getting a little stirred up in recent months, there was no reason to believe we wouldn't see some big surprises at the inaugural Wuhan Open in China.

And early on in the event, that's exactly what we saw -- Serena retired in her opening set, giving Alize Cornet an unlikely 3-0 record against the world #1 this season, 2014 standout Simona Halep fell in her first round to giant-killer Garbiñe Muguruza, and Maria Sharapova was stunned by an on-the-mend Timea Bacsinszky -- ranked all the way down at #285 at the start of the year, but now #46 in the world after her quarterfinal run. And with one favorite after another falling by the wayside, ultimately the two who'd sneaked into the final at the All England Club nearly three months ago set up a rematch of that championship fight.

Genie Bouchard got to her third final of the year much the same way she did in London -- with Cornet taking care of Serena for her again, the young Canadian didn't meet another seed until the semis and then took out Wozniacki in two quick sets. On the bottom half of the draw, Petra Kvitova was similarly unchallenged for most of her run. Though she dropped a set to Seoul champion Karolina Pliskova in the third round, every seed in her section was eliminated for her, and she met Bouchard without really getting tested all week.

And while Bouchard would look to shake things up again, she just couldn't turn momentum to her advantage this time around, and the pair's third meeting would be just as drama-free as their last two. Kvitova got an early break in the both sets and barely looked back -- though Genie was able to save one shot at the Czech's serving out the match, Petra held strong and finished off her rival in just eighty minutes. The trophy, Kvitova's third of the year, makes this her most prolific season since her breakthrough in 2011 and clinches her return to the WTA final for the fourth straight time.

While headlines have certainly been focused elsewhere the last few months, Kvitova's successful return to court -- this was her first event since the U.S. Open -- reminds us of a couple stalwarts we might have forgotten about recently. And though we've may have gotten used to seeing her in the winner's circle in the past, something tells me her return is going to give us plenty of opportunity for more excitement.

No comments: