| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo credit: Calvin Rhoden

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic edged out compatriot Karolina Pliskova in two tie-breakers for a 7-6(5), 7-6(6) victory on Friday, winning the Sydney International for her 15th career title.

In an intriguing early season matchup, world number four Kvitova took on the red-hot Pliskova, who was competing in her first WTA final (she also played in her first quarterfinal and semifinal this week in Sydney). The two are Fed Cup teammates and are very familiar with each other’s style of play.

Pliskova looked good early on, notching the first break point of the match for a 3-1 advantage in the first set. She would hang on to hold for a 4-2 and then 5-3 advantage before Kvitova showed her grit.

Kvitova held to bring the set to 4-5 on Pliskova’s serve. With a chance to close out the frame, Pliskova was unable to hold which would prove costly. Kvitova broke to even it at 5-5, and would break a 4-4 tie in the tie-breaker to steal the first set away 7-6(5).

The second set was nearly identical as each player would pick up one break point and hold serve in the other games. Thus, we headed into another tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Pliskova saved a match point down 5-6 to stay in the match, but Kvitova would capitalize on her second match point up 7-6 to close out the straight-set victory in one hour and 51 minutes.

“I’m just glad how I played today,” said Kvitova. “I mean, it was very a tough match to really handle it, everything. Two tiebreakers, it’s always very difficult. Karolina played really well and she served very well, and, you know, was really difficult.”

Kvitova hopes her win in Sydney can give her some momentum heading into next week’s Australian Open, a tournament that has not been kind to her over the last couple of years.

As for Pliskova, despite the loss, her week in Sydney should put her inside the top 20 for the first time in her career. She has shot up the rankings since the start of last year, and is a player to keep an eye on as we head deeper into 2015.

In Hobart, Britain’s Heather Watson and American Alison Riske had to sit through six different rain delays before Watson finally outlasted Riske 6-3, 7-5 to reach the final of the Hobart International.

“I’m very happy to finally get through today—it was tough,” said Watson, who will be competing in her second career WTA final. “It’s definitely not great conditions to play tennis and it was never going to be a pretty match. I think the goal for Alison and me today was just to get the ball in and not go for free points.”

In the final, Watson will take on American Madison Brengle. The qualifier edged Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to advance.

Brengle and Nara played an extremely tight match that saw them each notch four break points. The difference came in the third set as Brengle’s serve picked up and a break point allowed her to serve out the match.

Watson and Brengle have met just once before, a Watson 6-1, 6-3 win in Quebec City in 2010.