Kvitova books berth in finals

Melbourne: Petra Kvitova advanced to her first grand slam final since 2014 after overcoming the searing Melbourne heat and giant-killing Danielle Collins in straight sets at the Australian Open.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova’s career was derailed when she was the victim of a knife attack in her home in December 2016. However, the eighth seed continued her comeback with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-0 victory over unseeded American Collins at an uncomfortably warm Melbourne Park on Thursday.

Kvitova missed the Australian Open in 2017 while she was recovering from knife injuries to her left hand. Her best run at a major after returning at the French Open in 2007 was a quarterfinal at the U.S. Open that year. After the win, the eighth-seeded Kvitova is now on an 11-match winning streak, after warming up for the Australian Open with a title run in Sydney.

The Rod Laver Arena roof was closed at 4-4 in the first set after the new ‘Heat Stress Scale’ reached 5.0 as the temperature approached 104 degrees. Kvitova benefited from the indoor conditions. Collins had never won a main-draw match at a slam prior to this year’s Australian Open but the 25-year-old schooled 2016 champion Angelique Kerber and upstaged seeds Julia Goerges and Caroline Garcia en route to the semis. And Collins did not look overawed early, striking first in the fifth game on center court, hitting an almost unplayable return as Kvitova fired the ball long to hand the unheralded American a 3-2 lead.

However, Kvitova broke back immediately with a winner down the middle as temperatures soared to dizzying heights in Melbourne, who comfortably won the first-set tie-break. Collins lost her way at the start of the second set, audibly venting her frustration with a couple of let and fault calls as Kvitova capitalized with an early break. Kvitova completely dominated from that point, claiming another two breaks to race into her third slam final and first in five years after one hour, 34 minutes.

The 28-year-old Kvitova will play for the Australian Open title against either U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka or Karolina Pliskova.