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Kvitova captures 3rd Madrid title

The Associated Press

Petra Kvitova kisses her trophy after defeating Kiki Bertens in the Madrid Open final on Saturday.

The Associated PressMADRID (AP) — When Petra Kvitova thought she couldn’t go on, the Czech hit the critical shots to finally edge Kiki Bertens and claim a record third Madrid Open title on Saturday.

Kvitova outlasted Bertens 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-3 in a grueling final decided when the unseeded Dutch player hit a backhand long on the final point after nearly three hours.

“Everything that I had in my body, I just tried to put it out, even if it was very, very tough today,” said Kvitova, who was playing her 11th match in 13 days after also winning the Prague Open last weekend.

“In the third set, I was really thinking that I can’t do it anymore. But then when you step [into] the shot again, you are just trying to hit the return, you play the rally, the serves, whatever.

“We both should be very proud of this beautiful final we played.”

Kvitova previously won on the Madrid clay in 2011 and 2015. This third win took the Czech’s career total to 24 titles, including four in the first five months of 2018.

She and Bertens achieved three breaks each while saving many more chances.

The key moment came when Bertens appeared to have swung the momentum in her favor by pulling back a break in the third set, only for Kvitova to strike right back and recover the advantage for a 5-3 lead. She served out for the championship.

“It was pretty difficult for me to have a break in the third set and lose my serve,” Kvitova said.

“Mentally it was very difficult because I know how tough it is to break her. Luckily, the chance came for the second time.”

Bertens’ appearance in the final meant she will rise to a career-high 15th in the rankings.

On the men’s side, second-seeded Alexander Zverev brushed aside Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 6-1 to reach the final.

Zverev will face Dominic Thiem after he beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-2.

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