Petra Kvitova won a hard fought victory over world number seven Sara Errani at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday 23 February.
The former Wimbledon champion - currently ranked number eight in the world - needed three sets to see off Errani in a see-saw match that was finally put away with a resounding ace to give the Czech a 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 victory in the $2m WTA Premier event.
"I think it was a very tough match," said the sixth-seeded Kvitova. "Sara played well and it was tough to beat her. It was an up and down match and I was lucky in the end."
Kvitova put on a dominating display in the first set, taking full control of the game from the baseline, pressuring the much smaller Italian regularly in a 6-1 win.
The veteran Errani, who beat her world-best doubles partner Roberta Vinci to reach the Dubai final, responded with a complete change of tactics after dropping her serve in the first game of the second set. The Italian came to the net early and often after that, forcing Kvitova out of her comfort zone and into a series of unforced errors and erratic play.
The change proved fruitful: Errani reeled off six consecutive games to win the set 6-1 as Kvitova struggled to keep pace with Errani's crisp movement and sharp volleys.
Kivtova, however, gathered herself for the decisive third set, took an early break advantage and never looked back - particularly after Errani missed a crucial net volley in the fourth game that gave the Czech a commanding 3-1 lead she would never relinquish.
"I think it's always great to do a final," said Errani. "And also this court is very fast, so it's not my favorite court and it's tough for me to play on this court, so making the final is a very good tournament for me. I was fighting a lot every match. I didn't really expect to win one round maybe, so it was a very good tournament for me in the end."
Statistically, the match won't be one from which Kvitova can draw a great deal of comfort: her first serve percentage was only 65 percent (compared with 71 for Errani) and she hit an avalanche of unforced errors over the three sets. In the end, though, she gutted out an important victory ahead of the two main US events of the winter season: the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California on 6 March and the Sony Open Tennis championships in Miami a fortnight later.
"I'm glad how I'm playing right now - that's the important thing for me," said Kvitova. "I'm not thinking this is a turning point or a turning tournament for me. Yes, it was a lot of great players here and it was hard to beat them, but I'm still just thinking about my game. That's the priority."