Cincinnati, 2nd Rd: Petra defeats Serena

No.8 seed Petra Kvitova came up with some scintillating tennis to defeat Serena Williams under the lights on Tuesday, claiming an early blockbuster at the Western & Southern Open.

Playing in their seventh career meeting, Kvitova weathered Serena’s best tennis of the year to seal a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory in just under two hours.

“It was a pleasure to share the court with Serena, she’s such a champion,”

 

Kvitova said in a post-match interview. “We are both coming back – from injury, from motherhood – so it’s something really special to play her.

“Unfortunately it’s in the second round, but playing a night session against Serena in front of a USA crowd, it’s been great.”

 

Two-time champion Serena was in high spirits coming into the match, bolstered by an emphatic victory over Daria Gavrilova in the last round and bidding for a 12th straight victory in Cincinnati. But she ran up against one of the most in-form players of the tour in Kvitova, who owns a WTA-leading five titles this season across all surfaces – St. Petersburg, Doha, Prague, Madrid, and Birmingham.

She carried that momentum against Serena in Cincy, bossing the proceedings in the opening set. She had the American under pressure from the start, bringing up an early break chance at 2-1 and  Kvitova replied emphatically by reeling off the next five of six games, outrallying Serena and unleashing big backhands.

Serena replied like a 23-time Grand Slam champion in the second set, however – raising her level to finally earn a break on the Kvitova serve after a marathon third game of the set, converting on her fifth break chance to grab a 2-1 lead.

She defended her own serve just as fiercely when Kvitova looked to break straight back, saving three break points. Serena extended her lead to 5-2 and comfortably served out the set to send the match into a decider.

With both players fully dialed in, they started out the final set by trading breaks, with Serena seeing an early lead vanish under Kvitova’s relentless attack. She kept Serena under pressure throughout, especially on serve, and was rewarded with a breakthrough at 4-2. It proved to be decisive as the Czech served out her spot in the third round after a grueling two hour battle.

With the victory, Kvitova becomes the second player to win 40 so far this season – trailing only Simona Halep’s 42 – and she snaps Serena’s Cincinnati winning streak of 11 matches in a row.

Up next, Kvitova will take on Kristina Mladenovic in the third round – the Frenchwoman defeated Viktoria Kuzmova in a one-sided encounter, 6-3, 6-0 to advance.

“We played the final of St. Petersburg this year, it was something a little bit different as we played indoors,” Kvitova recalled. “She’s been up and down this season, so I need to be prepared because she’s been in good form here. She has two wins in the tournament, and she can play really aggressive. She’s a big hitter with a big serve – I need to be ready for that.”

 

Rogers Cup: Petra falls to Bertens

Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands claimed her sixth Top 10 win of the year with a straightforward 6-3, 6-2 victory over No.8 seed Petra Kvitova at the Rogers Cup on Thursday, entering the quarterfinals at the event for the first time in her career.

Bertens had lost her previous two meetings against the 2012 Rogers Cup champion, including a nearly three-hour championship match in Madrid earlier this year. But Bertens was dominant on the day in Montreal, outplaying the former World No.2 in one hour and 12 minutes.

The players finished the match with an equal amount of winners — eight apiece — but Kvitova was undone by a whopping 28 unforced errors, nearly double Bertens’ 15. The strong serving by Bertens was matched by her fearless returning, breaking the vaunted Kvitova delivery five times in the match, off of her seven break points.

In the final eight, Bertens will come up against No.15 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty got past Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straight sets earlier on Thursday.

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Rogers Cup, 2nd Rd: Petra beats Kontaveit

No.8 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic kicked off her campaign to win the Rogers Cup for a second time with a straight-set victory over dangerous floater Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, 6-3, 6-4, in the second round in Montreal on Tuesday.

2012 Rogers Cup titlist Kvitova had won her first two encounters with Kontaveit before the Estonian got the better of Kvitova in the third round at Roland Garros this spring, in two tiebreak sets. Kvitova avenged that defeat in 88 minutes, and moved into the third round, following her first-round bye.

The two-time Wimbledon champion’s left-handed power game was on song during the match, with her 21 winners outpacing her 19 unforced errors. Kontaveit, who beat Ekaterina Makarova in the opening round, had 14 winners, but 21 unforced errors, and only converted one of her six break points.

Kvitova faced break point in the very first game of the match, but, as is her custom when she is playing well, came up with a huge serve/forehand winner combination to erase Kontaveit’s chance, and eventually held for 1-0. The Czech kicked on from there, breaking for 3-1 when a huge service return on break point set up another forehand winner.

Kontaveit quickly struck back, getting back on serve in the next game with a forehand winner of her own. But Kvitova broke Kontaveit once more, taking the 4-2 lead after a deep backhand service return forced Kontaveit into a netted error.

Kvitova was untroubled from that point forward in the opening frame, holding twice at love to take the one-set lead. The high-risk, high-power game of Kvitova was in full flight in that set, with 12 winners to only eight unforced errors.

The second set opened with a marathon game, as both players were firing on all cylinders as they tried to get the upper hand. Kvitova crunched some exceptional service returns to claim four break points, but Kontaveit moved the Czech around and staved them off. But Kontaveit netted a forehand to give Kvitova a fifth chance, which she took after a long backhand by the Estonian.

That turned out to be the only break Kvitova needed, as she was impenetrable on serve for most of the remainder of the match. Kontaveit often matched the former World No.2 in baseline rallies, but was unable to claw her way back into the encounter.

Kontaveit’s last chance was when Kvitova struggled while serving for the match at 5-4. A great return off of a big serve set Kontaveit up for a forehand winner, giving her double break point. But the Czech used a backhand winner and an effective serve to get back to deuce, and would go on to close out the win on her second match point.

More:  WTATennis.com

 

 

Sasnovich stuns former champ Petra at Wimbledon

The unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich recorded one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far, knocking out two-time former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in three sets.

Ranked No.50 in the world, Sasnovich came into Wimbledon seeking her first grass court win of the season. She achieved it in emphatic style, triumphing 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 over the No.8 seed.

Last week Kvitova, who successfully defended her title in Birmingham, withdrew from Eastbourne in the third round citing a right hamstring injury. She came out of the gate today looking sluggish, and Sasnovich capitalized on the the opportunities.

The Bulgarian had Kvitova on the ropes from the outset, keeping the Czech’s serve under pressure and bringing up four break chances across her first three service games. She finally broke through at 4-3, and served out the opening set.

Kvitova threatened to make one of her famous comebacks in the second set, starting off with a 3-0 lead. Despite the No.8 seed’s big lead, Sasnovich was never far behind, breaking back late in the set at 5-4. But the comeback effort was short-lived as Kvitova broke once more to take them into a decider.

It was one-way traffic in the third for Sasnovich as Kvitova seemed to run out of steam in the final set, and the Bulgarian reeled off the last six games in a row to see off the two-time champion after a tough two hours and 18 minutes.

“I think most of the things wasn’t working,” Kvitova admitted in press later. “I just didn’t feel well obviously. It was a first round, the nerves were there again. I don’t know. I just tried to kind of fight with myself. Probably was the biggest opponent which I have.

“I tried. I changed it in the second set when I got an early break. In the third, I think it was just too quickly when she was on the board, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.”

 

WTAtennis.com // photo: Getty Images

 

 

Kvitova keeps winning in Eastbourne

Petra Kvitova made it six wins in six matches on grass thus far in the British summer after a 7-5, 6-3 second round victory over Kateryna Bondarenko at the Nature Valley International.

The Nature Valley Classic champion and No.3 seed scored her 38th victory of the season against another former Birmingham champion, and recovered from a break down in the second set to win the last five games.

“I just came yesterday [from Birmingham]. The court is a little bit different compared to Birmingham and the wind is a little bit different,”

 

Kvitova said on-court after the match.

“I do feel it’s softer than Birmingham, so probably a little bit slower, but some balls are a little bit faster. I needed some time with my serve, but I’m pretty happy with my win today.”

 

Up next for Kvitova will be the winner of the second round match between No.15 seed Daria Gavrilova, whom she defeated last week in Birmingham, or long-time rival Agnieszka Radwanska.

 

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Petra claims fifth title of 2018!

Petra Kvitova’s stellar 2018 season continued in Birmingham on Sunday, as the No.4-seeded Czech overcame Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, to defend her title at the Nature Valley Classic.

The former World No.2 picked up her WTA-leading fifth title of the year, as well as her 37th match victory this season, which also leads the tour. Kvitova improves to 2-0 against Rybarikova on the WTA, having also defeated the Slovak in the final of the Connecticut Open in 2014.

Both players had a nearly equal amount of unforced errors, but Kvitova hit 34 winners during the two-hour and 5-minute encounter, in contrast to Rybarikova’s 18. Kvitova also won 70 percent of points on Rybarikova’s second serve.

The combatants both started the match by getting through their opening service games with fiery serving, mixing well-placed, powerful deliveries with double faults. But Kvitova quickly blinked on serve at 1-1, blasting a forehand error to give Rybarikova triple break point, and firing another miscue from that wing to drop serve at love.

Rybarikova could not hold onto the lead for long, as Kvitova broke for 3-3 on her fifth break point of that game by forcing an error with a strong backhand. But the Slovak dominated Kvitova in another of the Czech’s service games, using deep returns to once again break Kvitova at love and lead at 4-3.

Serving for the set at 5-4, the Slovak fended off a break point before closing out the opener after Kvitova punched a backhand volley attempt into the net. Both players had 10 winners in the first set, but Kvitova had a whopping 22 unforced errors, to Rybarikova’s 15.

However, vintage Kvitova appeared in the second set. The two-time Wimbledon champion used searing service returns to break Rybarikova at love for a 2-0 lead, and then staved off a break point in the next game with a forehand winner, eventually holding serve for 3-0.

At 4-1, a grueling all-court rally was polished off with a forehand winner by Kvitova, giving the Czech a break point. Rybarikova subsequently double faulted, which provided Kvitova a 5-1 lead.

Serving for the second set, Kvitova fell behind 0-30 before three consecutive errors by Rybarikova handed Kvitova set point. A strong serve by the Czech was returned into the net, leveling the match at one set apiece.

Kvitova started the deciding set by holding the momentum, breaking Rybarikova in the opening game, then claiming an additional break for a 3-0 lead after a backhand lob by the Slovak fell just long.

Rybarikova clawed one break back in the following game, but then dropped serve once more at 3-1, after a big Kvitova forehand on break point forced an error from the Slovak. In the next game, a stunning backhand crosscourt winner by Kvitova pushed her to 5-1, placing her one game away from a successful title defense.

Rybarikova held serve for 5-2, attempting to put the pressure on Kvitova when serving for the match. But Kvitova was unfazed, and a backhand winner gave her triple match point. Kvitova only needed one chance, as an ace on her first opportunity sealed yet another trophy this season for the Czech.

WTATennis.com // photo: Getty Images

Interview: P. KVITOVA/M. Buzarnescu 6-3, 6-2

Q. A great result. What were you most happy with today?
PETRA KVITOVA: For sure will be the important points when I need to serve well and play well. When I was, like, two games 15-40, when I faced some breakpoints, that’s probably the best that I can remember from that match. To stay in the game, to serve well, to play well, to turn the game around. I know she’s returning pretty well as she showed today, but in the key points, I serve better. So that was important.

Q. I know you said you don’t feel any pressure to defend. But how important is it to reach back-to-back finals here in Birmingham?
PETRA KVITOVA: You know, when I was practicing before coming here, I couldn’t really imagine to be here all week, so I just said it to the coaches that I don’t really expect that. But from the first round, I really felt relaxed as I said already here. Even today, I was facing breakpoints and I was just pretty positive in the mind, which I’m happy with for sure because it’s not happening every week. So I’m taking it very positively.

Q. How do you feel about playing Magda in the final?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think it will be fun for both of us. We are friends. We are watching the football every night. We know each other pretty long already. We spend some years on the tour together. I think we kind of grew in the rankings together. We played some doubles, so it was always being fun. She’s a fun girl. She’s playing fun game on the grass as well, tricky game. We practice here once as well. It will be nice. I think it’s nice to see someone who you are friends with in the final.

Q. Talking about how you were able to get out of the 15-40 games, you’ve served very well against breakpoints throughout the year. Have you made adjustments on how you serve that second serve or first serve. Is it just confidence? What is it?
PETRA KVITOVA: I’m still trying to find the perfect timing for the serves, still not there. But luckily in those important points, even I don’t serve the first serve, the second serve is pretty big out here as well. That’s great to have it. I think it’s about the confidence as well. In the past sometimes I did a double fault for the breakpoint. Now it’s a little bit different story and it’s showing in the results, so it’s better way.

Q. The last time you played Magda was in the New Haven final a few years ago. What do you remember of that final? She kind of joked you guys always play in the semifinals and finals of tournaments all the time.
PETRA KVITOVA: We joked together this week, I think. I don’t know, we were just chatting and talking about the head-to-head and, yeah, that we are not playing very often, but if we playing it’s in the end of the tournament. So it’s good. Actually, I don’t remember anything from the final. I do remember I won (laughing). We had fun with the ceremony. That’s what I remember, those pictures and everything. But, like, from the game, I don’t. I think she’s a different kind of player on the grass. Definitely she showed in the result last year at Wimbledon as well here. She likes to mix the game a lot, approaching to the net, playing volleys, playing slice. It will be different opponent, different game plan. That’s kind of great to have different opponents with different style that you can be really prepare for the next matches. I’m thinking positive. It’s the final, so I like playing final. So, yeah, that’s it?

Q. Every time you’ve been under pressure this week, you’ve come up with the answers. Is that experience or just confidence in your game?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think experience out there as well. But, like, especially with this week, I think it’s about the confidence, be relaxed in the mind, as I said already. You need some experiences for the matches and for the important points as well. But like serving well, it’s probably about the confident.

Q. You had an amazing kind of year so far, obviously after a particularly difficult time last year. Is part of it to do proving it to yourself and saying I’m back and so much stronger than I was before? How has your mindset been?
PETRA KVITOVA: Actually, I’m not really thinking like that. I did think probably in this time last year, but not this year. I think the past happened and I closed that in myself. So just playing tennis and I’m a tennis player. That’s it. Playing with the joy, which is important. I think I had a great results this season and I’m enjoying the time as well. Last year was very important for me to see that I can compete with the best.

Q. Will you be watching the football together tonight?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think I will. Always depends when we were going to the dinner whether we watch the first half or the second half.

Q. Who’s your pick for the World Cup?
PETRA KVITOVA: My pick is Argentina. I did it before the tournament. Sorry. I didn’t know. Ronaldo is playing better than Messi, so we’ll see.

Q. Is it a sweepstakes? Did you have to draw something?
PETRA KVITOVA: No, no, no. We had, like, a bet in the Czech newspapers, I did Argentina and player is Messi. So I’m not doing well now. I try to play tennis better.

Q. Let’s just hope.
PETRA KVITOVA: Thank you. They have a still chance. That’s good.

Q. Since you first won Wimbledon in 2011, what’s the biggest change you see in yourself either as a player or person, like the most positive from then to now?
PETRA KVITOVA: Probably the most positive thing was off the court when I learned to say no for many things. That I think was kind of the big thing for me, just saying to people, kind of media stuff, no. So that’s probably the best.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Defending champ Kvitova back in Birmingham final

Last year’s champion Petra Kvitova is back into the final at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham after powering past the tricky Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets.

Kvitova has yet to drop a set this week, and she continued her torrid progress against the Romanian, needing just over 70 minutes to notch the 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Read more: Rybarikova returns to Birmingham final

“It took me a while from the beginning of the match to get used to a lefty serve and forehand and backhand,” Kvitova admitted in her on-court interview. “There’s a little bit of a difference, so you just need to think a little bit differently, which I did.

“I’m almost always expected to win, so it’s never really easy going into a match in a semifinal at a tournament that I really like. The nerves are always there, so I just tried to play well and win.”

 

The Czech’s numbers this year speak for themselves – after extending her Birmingham win streak to nine matches in a row, she’s through to her fifth final of the season. The win was her 51st career victory on grass, and she leapfrogs Simona Halep with a tour-leading 36 wins this season.

 “Amazing statistics this week!” Kvitova beamed. “I didn’t expect that from the beginning of the season – I didn’t really start well in Australia. So far this season is incredible, and I really can’t imagine a better season so far.”

 

Standing between Kvitova and her second-straight Birmingham title will be the unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova, whose game thrives on the grass courts.

The Slovakian has reached the semifinal here three times – winning the title in 2009 – but trails Kvitova 1-5 in their overall head-to-head record.

 

WTATennis.com // photo: Getty Images

Petra races past Goerges to move into Birmingham semis

Petra kept her hopes of a second successive title in Birmingham alive with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Julia Goerges.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, going for her fifth title of the year, beat Goerges for the sixth time in seven meetings to book her place in the semifinals.

“I think the score looks a little bit different compared to game. I think I found my game after the second half of the first set,” Kvitova said after the match.

“I think in the beginning of the match, we were both kind of finding the rhythm, the serve and the shots, especially on my serve. I think sometimes I was pretty lucky that she missed the return. When I broke her serve, it was a little bit kind of better for me, but was still trying to find good rhythm on the serve which I found afterwards.”

 

Despite having won 20 of her 21 service games over two matches this week, Goerges struggled to find any sort of consistency early on in the match and Kvitova made her pay by breaking at the first opportunity, much like she did in her opening match against Daria Gavrilova.

The defending champion dominated large parts of the first set from the back of the court, using her powerful style of tennis to make Goerges work for every point, and took her just half an hour to close out the first set.

Petra picked up right where she left off at the start of the second set, breaking in the first game and never looking troubled throughout the match. She added:

“In the second set, playing with the break from the beginning was a little bit relaxed for sure. I know how she’s playing even if she’s down. She really went for the shots and for the returns as well. I’m pretty happy with the game how I played like the first two points in the rallies.”

 

Goerges was more competitive in the second as she held serve relatively comfortably after the initial early break, but she failed to really put any sort of pressure on the Kvitova serve and the Grand Slam champion from the Czech Republic was able to see out the match in 66 minutes.

“I was pleased with the game and everything just worked well today,” Kvitova said. “I can’t see any easy first rounds here. I feel the field is very strong every year. I just always trying to focus how I feel and what I feel on the court and should I make improvements and kind of this stuff. I’m not really focusing on the score.”

 

WTATennis.com / photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images Europe

Birmingham: Petra overpowers Gavrilova to move into quarters

Defending champion Petra Kvitova stormed through to the quarterfinals of the Nature Valley Classic, beating Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.

Despite the Australian winning in their previous two meetings, the World No.8 dominated the match to advance in what she hopes will be a successful week in Birmingham as she builds up momentum on the grass before Wimbledon where she will be looking for her third title in eight years.

Kvitova, already with four titles in 2018 – more than anyone else on the tour – showed her intentions early on with some powerful backhands that proved too strong for Gavrilova, breaking in her opening service game and rushing into a 4-0 lead.

Gavrilova struggled on her serve, with several double faults early on in the first set as Kvitova made her pay with some super returning.

The 24 year-old broke Kvitova back and continued to hang on in points where her opponent was regularly the aggressor, but it was not enough as the two-time Grand Slam champion took the first set 6-2.

Gavrilova found her feet a little more in the second set but failed to capitalize on break point at 2-2 and was punished in the following game as Kvitova took a decisive break.

Coming off the back of a thirteen-match unbeaten streak on clay, including victories in both Prague and Madrid, Kvitova will now be hoping for a strong grass-court season, which is where she has achieved Grand Slam success.

Kvitova will now face either Julia Goerges or Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals.

 

WTATennis.com / photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images Europe