REUTERS - Venus Williams's strong run in the Pan Pacific Open came to an end with a narrow semi-final defeat to seventh seed Petra Kvitova on Friday.
Kvitova rallied to beat the former world number one 3-6 6-3 7-6 (2) in Tokyo to set up a final against fifth-seeded German Angelique Kerber, who beat Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 7-6 (5) in the other semi-final.
"After winning, it's always a good feeling," the Czech Republic's Kvitova said in a courtside interview. "Every game was up and down, and it was about a few points.
"I always love playing here. I had a great result in 2011, when I reached the semi-finals and I love being on centre court before a great crowd.
"I'm looking forward to the final tomorrow (Saturday)."
Williams, who has suffered a spate of injuries over the last two years, has seen her ranking slide to 63 but showed glimpses of her best form during her second-round defeat of world number two and top seed Victoria Azarenka.
"I was probably a little tired, but I don't think it affected the match," Williams said. "She was probably a little tired, too, since she played two matches yesterday (Thursday)."
After an early trade of breaks in the first set, multiple grand slam winner Williams, who endured difficult matches in the last two rounds, broke her opponent for the second time in the sixth game and took the set 6-3.
But the Czech Player, who saved 11 break points in the match, broke Williams in the fourth game of the second set and went on to tie the match at 1-1.
Both players saved multiple break points in the deciding set to force a tie-breaker but Kvitova raced to a 6-0 lead before closing out the set and the match in just over two hours and 24 minutes.
"At the end, she played amazing in the tiebreaker. I don't think I'm at my best off the ground yet. My serve has improved tremendously with each match here," Venus added.
"She hit a lot of unreturnable shots in the tiebreaker and sometimes that happens. She just played great."
Kerber, looking for her first title of the year, defeated former world number one and 2010 champion Wozniacki in a match lasting 100 minutes. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis)