Crafty Kenin tames Kvitova to reach French Open final
PARIS (Reuters) - American Sofia Kenin's great year continued when the fourth seed outmaneuvered Czech Petra Kvitova 6: 4: 7: 5 and reached her first final at the French Open on Thursday.
The Moscow-born 21-year-old from Florida gave Phillipe Chatrier a masterclass in game management on a windy court and will meet Polish teenager Iga Swiatek on Saturday with a second Grand Slam title of the year in the immediate vicinity.
Kenin, who beat Spain's Garbine Muguruza to win the Australian Open in February, proved too solid for 30-year-old Kvitova, who hadn't lost a set en route to her first French Open semifinal since 2012.
A mixture of skillful shot placement, excellent defense and some scorching backhand winners, combined with too many Kvitova mistakes, gave Kenin the command and her only wobble came when she served 5-4 for the match in the second set but was broken.
When she got a second chance at 6: 5, the American could not be disputed because Kvitova shot a forehand at the match point - a shot that summarized the performance of the Czechs.
"I've had tough games in the last two weeks. It's amazing to be in the final," Kenin said in court. "I'll enjoy it and then prepare for the final tomorrow.
"She's such a tough player with such an aggressive game and a huge serve. I knew I had to play my best tennis.
"I'm super proud of myself."
For the seventh Kvitova, who returned here in 2017 after a six month layoff due to a knife attack during a break-in at her home, it was a disappointing end to a tournament that had opened the door to a first French Open title wide open.
Despite all her experience, the left-handed two-time Wimbledon champion never looked good in the gusty wind, her serve did not work and 31 mistakes were thrown from her strings.
"In any case, the conditions were pretty unusual," Kvitova told reporters. "But I still think Sofia played great tennis today. She was better on the court today."
Kvitova looked lead-free early on as she dropped the serve twice to win 4-1 against the nimble Kenin, and although she managed to take a break back, the eager American sealed the opener at her second setpoint after she'd made a double mistake on her first.
Kvitova showed more intensity at the beginning of the second set, screaming out loud as she held 2-1, then wasted a break point when Kenin was under pressure.
Kenin broke serve in the next game and pulled Kvitova wide with a backhand before rolling a forehand into the open space.
Kvitova began swinging more freely and had four breakback points in the sixth game, but Kenin saved them all and stayed solid at 5-4, only to suddenly tighten Kvitova and give him an unlikely escape route.
However, the Czech, who had put her tracksuit top back on for the past three games as the sky darkened and the temperature dropped, couldn't take advantage of that when she dropped her serve again.
Kenin was coiled up like a feather but kept her cool when it came down to not reaching the final until their third French Open.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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