World No.6 Petra Kvitova has soared into her first Grand Slam final in five years by ending Danielle Collins’ breakout major run with a 7-6(2) 6-0 triumph on Rod Laver Arena.

Before this fortnight the Czech had not featured in the Australian Open second week since a semifinal showing in 2012 – but now she has emphatically booked her maiden final at Melbourne Park.

On Saturday the eighth seed will not only vie for a third Grand Slam title, but the No.1 ranking is also within her grasp as she faces US Open champion Naomi Osaka or Serena Williams’ conqueror Karolina Pliskova.

“Are you going to make me cry again?” Kvitova said with a beaming smile to on-court interviewer Jim Courier. “It means everything. That’s why I’ve worked so hard to reach finals of tournaments and finals of majors.

“Finally, I have made it deep here at this major and I will enjoy the final. Whatever happens I’m already very, very happy.”

World No.35 Collins, who hadn’t won a Grand Slam main draw match prior to the tournament, struck an acute backhand winner to chalk up a 3-2 break lead in the first set.

Kvitova then retaliated in similar fashion, with her own searing cross-court backhand winner doing the damage to restore scoreboard parity.

The roof was closed at 4-4 due to the heat stress scale reaching a maximum of 5.0, and shortly after a tie-break was required to split the fiercely tenacious duo.

“The first set was very tight, I was also very nervous and I couldn’t fully swing,” revealed Kvitova, who is on a run of 11 straight match wins off the back of lifting the Sydney International trophy in preparation for Australian Open 2019. “It didn’t matter if it (the roof) was closed, I was still going to fight. I’m glad that my game from previous matches arrived in the tie-break and second set.”

Kvitova won a three-set thriller against Collins at the Brisbane International earlier this month, clinching the first set on a tie-break. Out on Rod Laver Arena it was the same case, as the Czech lasered a bullet backhand past the reach of Collins to seize the initiative.

With an hour on the clock, Kvitova was 5-1 in the breaker and the 28-year-old sauntered to the set.

Collins, who had dispatched world No.2 Angelique Kerber en route to the final four, couldn’t contain the raw power launching over the other side of the net. Once again the backhand wing of Kvitova matched the scorching weather to dismantle the American’s defence to blast to a 3-0 double break lead in the second set.

World No.6 Kvitova, having not progressed past the third round at a Grand Slam in 2018, served out a maiden Australian open final ticket in scintillating style.

“I think both of them are great,” reflected Kvitova, referring to Osaka and compatriot Pliskova. “Karolina had a great match against Serena and Naomi is on fire, she’s playing really well. Both of them are very aggressive from the baseline, either way it will be very interesting.”

The 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion has prevailed in her last eight consecutive finals, with an impressive 26-7 career record in silverware showdowns.

“I love playing finals!”

Source: Alex Sharp