Kvitova's hidden hunger swallows Sharapova
Czech digs deep in second set to stun Sharapova
Maria Sharapova stood just inside the court, dragged a clenched fist to her body - and shrieked.
She has been labelled the "Queen of Screams" for her yelp-squeal each time she hits a shot, and even been chastised for it.
But this was different.
She wasn't hitting a shot, or even swinging her racket, she just stood there watching as Petra Kvitova returned her serve beyond the line in the semi-finals of the WTA Finals Singapore Presented by SC Global last night at the Indoor Stadium.
Down 3-2 in the tie-break after losing the first set, this was Sharapova, an athlete who was hailed by tennis great Chris Evert as having a seemingly endless source of hunger to fuel her drive to win.
Like the Babushka doll, Sharapova seemed able to look deeper into herself and always find something there - except this time she came up short.
This Sharapova shriek was primal, an athlete fighting for her life in the arena.
It was Kvitova (above) who, digging deep, found more in the tank, letting out a guttural scream of her own as Sharapova sent her final forehand long.
Kvitova may have lost two matches in the group stages, but she beat Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) and will face Agnieszka Radwanska in the final this evening.
"I think I'm hungry every time. I just sometimes don't show it. It doesn't matter that I don't show it and be visible, it's in the there - it's always there," said Kvitova, of her own drive to win.
The Czech was 5-1 down in the second set, facing a resurgent Russian across the net, but she looked inside and found steely resolve.
"It's sometimes difficult to put it out...(but) it's somewhere in myself. I didn't think the set is over, for sure not. I was really fighting for every point and returning," added the 25-year-old.
And Kvitova is looking for more of the same in her contest against the court-craft and guile of Radwanska, who like her, lost two of her three matches in the group stage.
"I just think every match that I'm playing here is better and better. That's a good sign," she said.
"I couldn't really believe that I going to play semi-final, now I'm the final, which is very interesting.
I'm really looking forward. I think Aga is kind of in the same situation, so it's going to be interesting."
Sharapova paid tribute to Kvitova's grit, a facet of the Czech that could see her win her second WTA Finals, after that 2011 triumph.
"I started the second set aggressive in the court forcing her to go for a little much, and then felt like I backed up a little bit. I gave her more time... and she took advantage of that," said Sharapova.
"I know what tennis she is capable of playing and what level she is capable of playing at. She definitely showed that today.
"I just felt like I let go of that (aggression) and gave her the chance to find those angles, and she is really good at that."
Kvitova showed just what she could do if the opportunity presented itself, and her double-fisted roar at the end of the game hinted at the grit that can drive the talent.
"But for sure (the final) is going to be last match here (in Singapore), and I will do everything tomorrow to win that battle," said Kvitova, and Radwanska should heed that warning.
Results and schedule
- Agnieszka Radwanska (x5) bt Garbine Muguruza (x2) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5
- Petra Kvitova (x4) bt Maria Sharapova (x3) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
- Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (x1) bt Chan Hao-ching/Chan Yung-jan (x3) 6-4, 6-2
- Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez Navarro (x8) bt Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka (x7) 7-6 (8-6), 6-0
3.30pm: Doubles final
- Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (x1) v Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez Navarro (x8)
Not before 6.30pm: Singles final
- Petra Kvitova (x4) v Agnieszka Radwanska (x5)
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now