While it appeared as though two of the tour’s top competitors were en route to another blockbuster final on clay, both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams were handed similar losses in their semi-final matches to make room for the surprise final at the Mutua Madrid Premier event, as the new final now features Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kvitova leads the head-to-head series 3-1, although has also lost their only previous clay court meeting – their last meeting on the tour at the 2014 French Open.
In undoubtedly the biggest upset in recent memory, Serena Williams had her incredible win streak snapped in Madrid on Friday afternoon when she suffered a straight sets loss to Petra Kvitova in the semi-final round. Kvitova’s 6-2, 6-3 win against the American ended her 27-match win streak from 2014, as well as her incredible 3+ year streak at Premier events.
“Yeah, I think she just played well today,” Williams said. “I mean, she went for broke on every serve, every return. I hit some second serves, 170, 175, and she just hit them for winners. I was very slow off the mark. After my serve I wasn’t moving as well as I should have. You know, I wasn’t in it.
“I wasn’t Serena today. I think that was the main thing.”
Earlier in the day, Svetlana Kuznetsova began the day’s trend of massive upsets, as she comfortably ousted defending champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets to secure her spot in the final. She defeated her fellow Russian 6-2, 6-4 in a surprisingly straightforward affair. While Sharapova had her opportunity in the second set, she was unable to capitalize.
“I feel very happy, it was a very tough match,” Kuznetsova said. “I was playing good, serving good – everything was working well.”
This is set to be the fifth time that Kvitova and Kuznetsova will cross paths on the professional tour, with the Czech No. 1 leading the head-to-head series 3-1. However, it is the Russian who won their most recent encounter, one that took place in the third round of last year’s French Open event. Given that Kuznetsova holds a win against Kvitova in their only clay court encounter, it should add an extra layer of intrigue ahead of Saturday’s final.
Prediction: Svetlana Kuznetsova in Three Sets