August 29, 2015 / 2:25 AM / 4 years ago

Czech mates Kvitova, Safarova in New Haven final

(Reuters) - Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova will meet in an all-Czech final at the Connecticut Open after the compatriots enjoyed straight sets wins in their respective semi-final matches in New Haven on Friday.

Aug 20, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Lucie Safarova (CZE) returns a shot against Belinda Bencic (not pictured) on day six during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Defending champion and second seed Kvitova found herself 5-3 down in the first set against Caroline Wozniacki but stormed back to win 10 of the next 11 games to secure a 7-5 6-1 win over the Dane.

Earlier, fourth seed Safarova ended Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko’s giant-killing run by fending off some late resistance for a 6-2 7-6(4) victory.

Kvitova has a 6-0 career record against fellow left-hander Safarova but is not taking the final for granted.

“Her game is improving a lot,” Kvitova said of her sometimes practice partner Safarova in a courtside interview.

“We know each other well from Fed Cups and off the court as well. She’s very dangerous and fast. I think the court can suit her game as well.

“It’s nice to have a Czech final for sure. It’s amazing how many players (three) we have right now in the top 10.”

The powerful Kvitova played with her usual aggression against third seed Wozniacki, hitting 33 winners in the first set, which lasted more than an hour.

However, Kvitova also made her fair share of unforced errors and Wozniacki used her speedy court coverage to eke out a break and serve for the set.

Wozniacki failed to capitalize, was broken and the match turned into a one-sided romp, though perhaps the Dane was hampered slightly by a recurrent left knee injury.

In the other semi-final, world number six Safarova breezed through the opening set and went two breaks up in the second before 46th-ranked lucky-loser Tsurenko mounted a stirring fightback.

Tsurenko, who had upset fifth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-2 in the quarter-finals and did not drop a set on her way to the last four, broke her opponent’s serve four times and saved a match point at 5-4 before losing the tiebreak 7-4.

“I had to go back to basics to calm myself down,” left-hander Safarova said courtside, having clinched victory on her second match point after a contest lasting just over 90 minutes.

“I just had to start to play more aggressive and go for the shots.”

Safarova, an expert doubles player, will be bidding for her seventh WTA singles title, while Kvitova will be chasing her 17th.

Whatever the outcome, Safavora, who lost the French Open final to Serena Williams in June, can reflect on a golden 2015 campaign, highlighted by grand slam doubles titles in Australia and France, and career-high rankings in singles and doubles.

Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles and Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien

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