US Open, 3rd Rd: Petra races past Garcia

No.13 seed Petra Kvitova has reached the fourth round of a Slam for the first time since her comeback from horrific left hand injuries sustained in a knife attack last December with a dominant 6-0, 6-4 win over No.18 seed Caroline Garcia in just 48 minutes.

The first match between seeds at this year’s US Open saw the Frenchwoman broken in the very first game – despite serving two aces and one unreturned bomb. Garcia would be plagued by a wide variety of unforced errors throughout the opening set: seven off the forehand wing, six from the backhand, and equally balanced between going long, wide, into the net or simply shanked. Though the 23-year-old maintained an aggressive strategy in rallies and on return of serve, it didn’t pay off: the mistakes were balanced by just four winners and she would fail to reach break point in the
whole match.

As for Kvitova, there were flashes of her breathtaking peak form – a running forehand in the third game, a booming backhand down the line in the fourth – but the Czech, who was an efficient three for three on converting her own
break points, needed to strike just five winners to wrap up a 25-minute bagel set.

The action tightened in the second set: Garcia, with a blank slate to start afresh, gathered herself to deliver some solid service games. But her 27-year-old rival had also raised her game, adding a pinpoint running forehand in the first game and a squatting reflex backhand down the line to the highlights reel. Garcia proved unable to keep the errors at bay: having decreased her number to just three in the first six games of the set, the seventh saw her cede a total of five, with a netted forehand resulting in a fourth break of the World No.19’s serve.

From there, Kvitova accelerated towards the finishing line, seizing her opportunities to finish points at the net with alacrity. Garcia did have some resistance in her. Aiming for her third consecutive Slam second week showing, having broken her duck after 20 attempts at Roland Garros in May, the No.18 seed saved two match points on her serve and held with a spectacular forehand pass. Kvitova, though, remained impenetrable on serve, and closed the match out by hammering down her sixth ace of the day.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, in the second week at Flushing Meadows for the fifth time in her career, will face either current Wimbledon holder Garbiñe Muguruza or No.31 seed Magdalena Rybarikova in the fourth round.


US Open: Petra rolls into round 3

No.13 seed Petra Kvitova wasted little time in reaching the third round of the US Open, needing just 59 minutes to see off Alizé Cornet 6-1, 6-2.

“I don’t have any expectations here in the US Open or in the American hard court season,” Kvitova said afterwards. “I’m just taking every match one day at a time.

“I’m glad I do have another opportunity to play here, but I’m not setting any goals for myself.”

Kvitova’s typically aggressive start was rewarded with the first break early on, setting the tone for the one-sided affair. The Czech rolled through her service games, losing just two points on her serve in the entire first set – and powering through the last two service games winning both to love. Cornet couldn’t find her timing against Kvitova’s hard and flat style, and didn’t have the answers as she found her serve under siege from the start, holding just once in each set.

After dropping the first set 6-1 and finding herself down 5-1 in the second, Cornet picked a good time to get her first break of the match. She saved a match point and broke the Czech’s powerful serve to extend her stay in the year’s last Grand Slam. But it was short-lived as Kvitova slammed the door shut in the next game with a commanding break to love.

“I think this match is the best that I’ve felt on the hardcourts so far, it was a good match from my side,” Kvitova told WTA Insider after the match.








US Open, 1st Rd: Petra beats Jankovic

Petra advanced to the US Open second round with a 7-5, 7-5, victory over the former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic on Monday.

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In the second set, the unseeded Jankovic squandered a 2-0 lead and rallied back to take a 5-3 edge before Kvitova seized the next four games with well-placed shots and crafty angles.

With Monday’s victory, Kvitova avenged the result of the pair’s last meeting, in the third round of Wimbledon in 2015, in which Jankovic won a two-hour, three-set match to prevent Kvitova from defending her 2014 Wimbledon title. On Monday in New York, Kvitova also proved that her left hand can withstand serves over 100 mph to her forehand. This tournament marks the southpaw’s eighth tournament (and third major) after extensive surgery on her left hand following a brutal knife attack at her home on Dec. 20, 2016. (The attack remains under investigation.) For Jankovic, Monday’s first-round loss in her 14th consecutive US Open main draw means that the 28-year-old Serb hasn’t advanced past the round of 16 since her 2008 run to the final, when she lost to Serena Williams in straight sets.

Petra beaten in New Haven opener

On a day featuring a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse it was Zhang Shuai that put together the biggest surprise when she sent the three-time New Haven champion Petra Kvitova crashing out of the Connecticut Open in the first round. Zhang, ranked No.29 in the world, hasn’t played in New Haven since 2013 when she fell in qualifying on her only previous appearance.

But she looked right at home on Yale’s Stadium Court up against the No.3 seed, needing just 67 minutes to seal the 6-2, 6-1 victory and record her second win against a Top 20 player in 2017.

Zhang played solid, high-percentage tennis from start to finish to neutralize the big-hitting Kvitova. She sent her returns deep and with plenty of pace, giving Kvitova trouble and earning a break early in the first set for a for 4-1 lead. Kvitova kept Zhang under pressure with her heavy groundstrokes – getting a point away from breaking back – but the Chinese player stayed solid, chipping away at the three-time champion’s defenses.

Two double faults from Kvitova give Zhang three set-points; the Czech put up monumental effort to attack at the net and get two of them back but a backhand drifted long to hand Zhang the opening set.

Despite the lopsided scoreline in the second, Kvitova kept the games close but found her efforts undone by her unforced errors. She racked up 31 in total to 14 winners, unsustainable margins against Zhang’s solid 14 winners and 17 unforced errors. The Chinese player broke twice more to seal the match after 67 minutes on court.

Cincinnati, R32: Petra beaten by Stephens

For the second time in as many weeks, Sloane Stephens came out on top over No.14 seed Petra Kvitova to move into the round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open.

Stephens – a former World No.11, who missed nearly a year of action due to a foot injury before returning at Wimbledon – faced Kvitova last week in Toronto on her way to the semifinals, scoring a statement three-set victory to mark the best match of her comeback to date.

On Wednesday in Cincinnati, Stephens backed it up with another victory against Kvitova, needing just 70 minutes to win 6-2, 6-3 and make her way into the round of 16.

Stephens stayed solid against Kvitova from start to finish, allowing the big-hitting Czech a paltry four winners in the first set and three in the second. They finished the match tied at seven winners each, but Kvitova’s 33 unforced errors far outpaced Stephens’ 10.

The American was firmly in control for a set and a half, breaking twice in the first set and twice in the second to build up a 6-2, 4-0 lead.

But Kvitova – who’d been struggling with pain in her right thigh throughout the match – began to mount a comeback. She reeled off three games in a row and had points to make it a fourth when Stephens stopped her charge. The American quickly got back on track, holding serve then breaking Kvitova to make her way into the round of 16.

Rogers Cup, R32: Petra falls to Stephens

In the best win of her comeback so far, American Sloane Stephens survived a tense battle against No.14 seed Petra Kvitova in the second round of the Rogers Cup, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2.

Though Stephens broke the Kvitova serve in the first game of the match, the Czech got back on serve in the sixth game, and forced the American to serve to stay in the set twice in the later stages.

Neither player was able to generate a break point over the last six games of the opener, but it was Stephens who twice led by a minibreak in the tiebreak, as some untimely unforced errors came off the Kvitova racquet.

The Czech forced Stephens to serve out the tiebreak, which the American did with aplomb, as she held the final two points of the tiebreak to take a one-set lead in their first WTA meeting.

Kvitova pounced on early momentum to begin the second set, as she won three of the first four games and looked to force a decider.

Though Stephens quickly pulled even in the second set by claiming the next two games, the two-time Wimbledon champion showed her mettle to force a final set, as she pocketed the final three games in decisive fashion.

Kvitova largely turned the match around in the middle stages on serve, as she raised her first serve percentage from 43% in the opener to 71% in the middle set.

She also proved more effective in returning the Stephens serve in the second set, as she won more than half the points on return in set two, up from 33% in the opener.

Kvitova pounced on early momentum to begin the second set, as she won three of the first four games and looked to force a decider.

Though Stephens quickly pulled even in the second set by claiming the next two games, the two-time Wimbledon champion showed her mettle to force a final set, as she pocketed the final three games in decisive fashion.

Kvitova largely turned the match around in the middle stages on serve, as she raised her first serve percentage from 43% in the opener to 71% in the middle set.

She also proved more effective in returning the Stephens serve in the second set, as she won more than half the points on return in set two, up from 33% in the opener.



2017 Stanford

Rogers Cup, R64: Petra passes Suárez Navarro test

No.14 seed Petra Kvitova overcame a tough opening test against Carla Suárez Navarro in her first match at the Rogers Cup, needing a second-set tiebreak to advance to the second round. After easing through a one-sided opening set, the 2012 champion came back from 1-4 down in the second to move on 6-1, 7-6(5).

“I feel pretty solid right now,” Kvitova said in her on-court interview. “It was a great match in the second set, I really had to fight.”

Kvitova and Suárez Navarro came into their 11th matchup locked at 5-5 in their previous head to head record, with Suárez Navarro looking to make it five in a row as the Czech’s last victory happened over four years ago.

Kvitova got off to a great start, stepping in and winning most points inside the court to keep the Spaniard under constant pressure. Suárez Navarro was almost completely shut out the match in the opening set, with Kvitova blasting 15 winners past her and Suárez Navarro only recording two in the whole set. The Spaniard – who had come back from a set down to defeat Kvitova in two of their previous four matches – didn’t seem phased after dropping the first set so one-sidedly. She dug in and completely turned around the match, starting with an early break to get ahead 4-1.

But the 2012 champion dashed Suárez Navarro’s advantage a few games later, roaring back to level the score at 4-4. The pair continued their tug of war as the rest of the games went the way of the server, sending them into a tiebreak. Just a handful of points made the difference as Kvitova came back from a minibreak down to see off the determined Spaniard, halting Suárez Navarro’s comeback efforts after an hour and 34 minutes.

“It was just one break down,” Kvitova explained her second-set comeback. “Every game we played in the second set was very close. I just tried to count the points and not really see the score. “Then I found out I was back on my serve, and I just tried to stay on my serve and try to win the tiebreaker and wait for some of my chances.”

With the victory, Kvitova will take on the winner between Yulia Putintseva and Sloane Stephens in the next round.


Stanford: Bellis downs Petra

No.8 seed CiCi Bellis scored a statement win over two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, needing just over one hour to book her spot into the Bank of the West Classic semifinals.

The 18-year-old American bossed the match from start to finish, playing fearless tennis against her opponent and dropping just two games to win 6-2, 6-0 and reach her first ever WTA Premier-level semifinal.

Bellis revelled in the support from her home crowd and showed her quality from the very first game; Kvitova, who didn’t face a single break point in her opening match, found herself broken to love to start their quarterfinal.

When the No.2 seeded Czech broke straight back, Bellis responded in kind, setting the tone for the next few games. The American got out on top after five straight breaks of serve for a 4-2 lead, calmly reeling off the next two games to take the opening set.

From there it was one-way traffic from the Stanford local as Kvitova continued to struggle with rhythm, misfiring errors on routine shots – especially at the net – racking up 26 unforced errors to Bellis’ nine, and striking 12 winners against Bellis’ nine.  The American fired off winners off both wings and, after an hour and two minutes, completed the commanding victory over Kvitova.



Wimbledon: Petra comeback ended by Brengle

The No.11 seed, a pre-tournament favourite having swept to the title in Birmingham, faded in the latter stages of a 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 defeat to the world No.95. It was only the Czech’s third tournament since returning from a hand injury suffered in a knife attack at her home in December last year.

After levelling the match, Kvitova was visibly struggling, eventually calling for the trainer, who checked her blood pressure with the score at 2-5. It mattered little as Brengle served out the match to set up a third round showdown with the French No.21 seed Caroline Garcia, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Romanian Ana Bogdan.

“My body just didn’t really do the best, unfortunately,” Kvitova said. “But I was really trying. I fight, and I’m not sure what happened, actually. I could not just breathe, and I was feeling a bit sick, as well.

“Unfortunately, it happened at Wimbledon, which is not nice. But she still played what she could. I mean, she hit everything back. It was just tough for me to still have the energy to put it back and play my aggressive game.”

This was Kvitova’s third loss in four career meetings with the 27-year-old Brengle, whose victory opens up the draw for the No.6 seed, Johanna Konta, who was due to meet Kvitova in the fourth round. For the Czech, it is back to the hand specialist before a return to cracking balls on the practice court after what has been an extraordinary comeback so soon after her ordeal.

“No one knows how hard I had to work to be back, so probably that feels more disappointing than normally it is,” Kvitova admitted.

“But it’s been great to be here again. I mean, it was my goal to play this event this year, and that’s what I did. So probably, deep in myself, I feel very grateful to have this option to play, but on the other hand, I feel sad that I have to leave so early.”

The result is negligible in the scheme of things. A return to doing what she loves most has been a triumph in itself.

By Dan Imhoff (