Czechs charge to a 2-0 lead in Stuttgart

A pair of outstanding performances by Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova have given Czech Republic a commanding 2-0 lead over Germany in their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas semifinal in Stuttgart.

Both Kvitova and Pliskova played top-flight tennis, not dropping a set in four total played against Julia Goerges and Angelique Kerber, respectively.

Kvitova won 63 62 while Pliskova was triumphant 75 63. It was a first win for Pliskova over the two-time major winner in four outings, dating back to summer 2016.

“No one expected this,” Pliskova said on court after her win.

No one, indeed. “We will have to gather tonight,” captain Jens Gerlach says about the German squad who will now have to dig itself out of a 0-2 hole on Sunday. And history is against them: The Czech team has a 7-1 head-to-head lead against the Germans.

Czech Republic is looking for its first title since 2016, having won five out of the last seven Fed Cup championships. Germany has not won since 1992.

On Sunday, the rubbers will flip, with Pliskova taking on Goerges and then Kvitova meeting Kerber. Should the Germans force a deciding fifth match, it is scheduled to be Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Tatjana Maria for Germany against Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova, barring substitutions.

FedCup.com

Pliskova overcomes No.2 seed Petra in Charleston

Unseeded Kristyna Pliskova came back from dropping a one-sided first set to stun No.2 seed Petra Kvitova at the Volvo Car Open. Pliskova needed just under two hours to prevail in the all-lefty, all-Czech battle, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Pliskova struggled to hold her serve in the opening set – although she was able to break Kvitova in the opening exchanges, Pliskova didn’t win a single service game as Kvitova powered ahead to four breaks of serve, reeling off five games in a row in the lopsided 6-1 set.

She raised her level considerably in the second set as Kvitova seemed to slump, flipping the script around and reeling off four straight games of her own. Pliskova got ahead to a 2-0 lead in the third set as well, backing it up to break again at 5-1. She needed seven match points to get the job done as Kvitova put together a late comeback – even getting one of the breaks back – but she held firm to take the victory after an hour and 51 minutes.

Kvitova’s unforced error count grew exponentially as the match went on, with the majority of her 44 errors – including nine double faults – coming in the last two sets alone. For her part, Pliskova stayed on the offense, striking

24 winners and 32 unforced errors.

Source: WTATennis.com

Ostapenko outlasts Petra in Miami

No.5 seed Jelena Ostapenko braved the elements and lateness of the hour – not to mention the fearsome play of No.9 seed Petra Kvitova – to win, 7-6(4), 6-3, and reach her first quarterfinal at the Miami Open.

“It’s not easy,” Ostapenko told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview. “It’s 1AM, we’re still on court finishing the match. Of course, I was fighting hard for this match because when we went off court, I was losing. I just said, ‘OK, I’m going to try my best because I know Petra is a great player and I have to play on a very high level.’ But I’m very glad with how I finished the match.”

The last match of the night had barely begun when raindrops kept Ostapenko and Kvitova from commencing the coin toss. Once things got underway, the reigning French Open champion took the upper hand, earning a 4-1 lead and later holding a set point before the two-time Wimbledon champion turned the tables to lead by a mini-break in the ensuing tie-break.

“She was hitting very hard from the beginning,” she later explained to WTA Insider. “The first set started good from my side, but she was playing very aggressively and very deep, so for me, it was hard to hit winners off those balls. I was just trying to manage somehow.”

Mother Nature intervened once more, sending the players off court until just after midnight when Ostapenko won five of the final six points of the sudden death to sneak off with the opening set.

Kvitova had dropped just two games to Ostapenko at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy back in February, but the tricky conditions combined with the Latvian’s fearless play ultimately unwound the former World No.2, who surrendered a double fault to bring up match point that Ostapenko converted to take the match in ostensibly one hour and 43 minutes.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

 

 

Petra conquers Kenin under the lights in Miami

No.9 seed Petra Kvitova found herself on the brink of defeat against American Sofia Kenin, but the two-time Wimbledon winner found a way to defeat the 19-year-old, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the Round of 16 at the Miami Open for the first time since 2014.

“I have no idea how I won,” Kvitova said during her on-court interview. “It was a really difficult match, mentally, for me to play a young player I didn’t know. It’s always a bit tough because those opponents play so well against me. I remember me when I was younger, how I played without fear and with nothing to lose. They play so aggressively, which she did today; she didn’t really miss anything!

“I just tried to play more rallies and get into a rhythm.”

 

Kenin made her major breakthrough last summer at the US Open – where she reached the third round as a wildcard – and appeared to use that experience of playing Maria Sharapova under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the start of her clash with Kvitova.

“She’s a great mover. She can catch a lot of balls and put them back into the court. She serves well; she’s not so tall, but she puts a good percentage of first serves in. I had to play a lot of rallies, and it was difficult to go to net because she reads the game so well.”

 

After a slow start, Kvitova navigated through a tricky middle set that featured five consecutive service breaks, and rallied from 2-4 down in the decider to make it over the finish line after exactly two hours on Stadium Court.

She struck 35 winners to Kenin’s 15, and converted eight of 14 break point opportunities while hitting a whopping 14 aces to eight double faults.

“In the second set, I tried to serve a bit better, have a better percentage of first serves, and try not to be so hectic and try to play into the court. That’s not always easy for me, but that helped me today.”

 

Up next for Kvitova is No.5 seed Jelena Ostapenko in what will be a rematch of their St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy quarterfinal, which Kvitova won in straight sets.

Courtesy of WTATennis.com / photo: Getty Images

Petra beats Sabalenka in Miami 2nd round

In a bruising encounter between two of the WTA’s most powerful players, No.9 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic outhit 19-year-old Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, to advance to the third round of the Miami Open on Friday.

In the first meeting between the heavy hitters, the Czech former World No.2 moved past the rising teenager, ranked 60th in the world, in just over two hours of startlingly strong tennis. Kvitova moves into the third round at Miami for the fifth time overall, and denies Sabalenka the first Top 10 victory of her career.

The Belarusian teenager used her solid groundstrokes to break Kvitova in the Czech’s first service game, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead. But Kvitova regrouped and reeled off three games in a row, including two breaks of the Sabalenka serve, to go up a break at 3-2.

The players exchanged breaks in the next two games, leading to an opportunity for Kvitova to serve out the set at 5-4. But the two-time Wimbledon champion threw in a shocker of a service game, hitting two double faults, including one on break point, to allow Sabalenka to break back for 5-5.

But, again, Kvitova recovered fantastically. Huge service returns from the Czech let her break Sabalenka at love, giving her an additional chance to serve for the set at 6-5. Kvitova would come through successfully this time, winning the final eight points of the set by holding at love. Kvitova had 13 winners in the first set, and only 12 unforced errors.

The tables completely turned in the second set, however, as Sabalenka hit her targets with greater efficacy, and Kvitova’s unforced errors mounted. Sabalenka went on a tear to start the set, racing to a substantial lead by breaking the error-prone Kvitova twice, including at love to claim a 5-1 advantage.

Sabalenka faltered at the end of what had been a stellar set for her, allowing Kvitova to break her serve for 5-2. Kvitova then fended off two set points in the next game to hold for 5-3, ramping up the pressure on the teenager.

But Sabalenka stayed strong in her next service game, holding with ease to put the match at one set apiece. Sabalenka had nine winners and nine unforced errors in the second set, a fine ratio for her power game. Meanwhile, Kvitova wholly negated her seven second-set winners with a whopping 15 unforced errors.

In the decider, the players held routinely up to 2-2. In that game, Sabalenka reached the first break point of the set when a brilliant lob over a net-rushing Kvitova landed deep and just on the sideline. But that bit of magic seemed to fire Kvitova up, and she won the next three points of the game with huge serves and a powerful forehand winner to hold for 3-2.

Unbelievably, that moment of danger for Kvitova propelled her to greater heights, while Sabalenka, ruing her lost opportunity, was not quite the same afterwards. Kvitova claimed the first break of the set in the next game, hitting a stunning drop volley for a winner to take the 4-2 lead. A big backhand by the Czech forced an error on game point as Kvitova held for 5-2, in touching distance of a hard-fought win.

A strong hold by Sabalenka for 5-3 put her back on track, but Kvitova held her nerve enough to reach match point in the next game. On that point, Kvitova hit a serve which was called an ace, although Sabalenka felt it was out. Unfortunately for the up-and-coming teenager, Sabalenka had no challenges remaining, leaving the Belarusian visibly despondent while Kvitova celebrated an incredibly tough triumph.

WTATennis.com / Photo: Matthew Stockman, Getty Images North America

Indian Wells, 3rd Rd: Anisimova snaps Petra win streak

Playing in just her fifth professional match career, American wildcard Amanda Anisimova claimed the biggest win in her career to snap Petra Kvitova’s winning streak in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

The 16-year-old played well above her World No.149 ranking to score the straight sets victory, 6-2, 6-4, in just over an hour.

Kvitova came into Indian Wells riding high on a 14-match winning streak, the joint-longest streak of her career, after claiming back-to-back titles in St. Petersburg and Doha.

With her victory, Anisimova becomes the first 16-year-old to reach the fourth round at Indian Wells since 2005. The last player to do so was also a wildcard, Ukraine’s Viktoriya Kutuzova.

Up next, she’ll play the winner between No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova and No.32 seed Zhang Shuai.

WTATennis.com

Petra extends winning streak to 14 in Indian Wells epic

No.9 seed Petra Kvitova has equalled the longest winning streak of her career in dramatic fashion, capturing her 14th consecutive victory after three hours and 17 minutes on court with a seesawing 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-4 victory over Yulia Putintseva in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.

“It’s kind of tough to explain, because it was really up-and-down,” Kvitova told the press afterwards. “My mental side wasn’t really tough, I have to say. It was always, like, a good point and I was up mentally, and then it was a bad point, and I was down. That was almost all match.”

“I couldn’t show the game which I played the last few weeks,” Kvitova continued. “I just really stayed very calm.”

 

(…)

Seeking to avoid getting bogged down in long rallies on the slow courts, the 29-year-old made her intentions to come forward as often as possible plain in the opening games of the match. However, the Kazakh also able to turn this weapon against her opponent, dragging or luring Kvitova into net with short slices. It was whenever the former World No.2 was in the forecourt but not on her own terms that she was vulnerable, as Putintseva took her pick from a variety of passes and lobs.

Kvitova’s form oscillated from extreme to extreme. Twice in the first set, she fell behind a break, with the nadir being the five netted forehands and two double faults with which she conceded the eighth game – one that left Putintseva serving for the set.

Naturally, a flurry of winners followed from the Czech racket to level the set – but in the ensuing tiebreak, errors on the overhead, at net and with forehands sent long, wide or both meant that she would have to come from a set down for the third match in a row.

Kvitova was forced to draw on all her mental reserves in the opening stages of the second set, saving four break points in her first three service games – three in an epic four-deuce fifth game that saw the former World No.2 swing between stunning winners and cascading errors.

Little about this match would be easy – but Kvitova’s ability is such that for brief moments, she could make it seem so. The eighth game of the second set was one such moment: having spent much of the set bending double and seeming unable to control her power, the St. Petersburg and Dubai champion simply hammered four consecutive returns, all off Putintseva first serves, to rock her opponent back on her heels and casually snatch the break.

Inevitably, attempting to serve out the set would go awry in the next game courtesy of yet more errant forehands, a netted volley and another increase in the double fault tally. But Kvitova would right the ship in another tiebreak, conjuring up some magnificent net play and coming out on the right side of an epic rally that left both players gasping for air.

Though Putintseva was livid at allowing the match to slip, and let it show in an on-court coaching session before the deciding set, the release of emotion proved beneficial for the World No.81. Scurrying from corner to corner and cleverly anticipating the direction of Kvitova’s bombs, the 2016 Roland Garros quarterfinalist recovered an immediate break to leap out to a 4-2 lead.

But though Kvitova appeared to be flagging at times, she has proven over the course of her current winning streak that her stamina is not to be underestimated – spending 10 hours and 38 minutes on court over the course of her title-winning week at the Qatar Total Open. Reeling off 12 of the next 15 points, Putintseva’s lead was eradicated in the blink of an eye.

“Every time I lost serve, then I had chances to break her serve,” Kvitova mused. “So, probably for the time I stayed calm, and just waited for a chance.”

Serving out the match would inevitably be a dramatic microcosm of the rest of it. Kvitova wasted her first match point with her 18th and final double fault, and was forced to save two break points as Putintseva found the corners with her passes. But after three deuces, it was the Kazakh who cracked with an uncharacteristic error: a forehand sent wide that infuriated her so much that she smashed her racket repeatedly into the ground.

The last time Kvitova won 14 straight matches was over 2011-12, when her streak encompassed victories in Linz, the WTA Finals, Fed Cup and Sydney. She’ll have a chance to set a new personal best this week when she takes on either No.23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or 16-year-old wildcard Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Courtesy of WTATour.com / photo: Getty Images

Petra digs deep to double up in Doha

The statistics surrounding Petra Kvitova’s 13-match unbeaten streak are stunning standing alone. That she has put together one of her best runs of play just over 13 months after her future in the sport was left uncertain after being attacked in her home is flat-out astounding.

Kvitova moved her record to 14-2 this season, after navigating a tough draw to win the Qatar Total Open. En route to her 22nd title, Kvitova defeated No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 3 Elina Svitolina, No.4 Garbiñe Muguruza, No.10 Julia Goerges, and Agnieszka Radwanska, and moved her exemplary record in tournament finals to 22-7. After winning her first title of the season two weeks ago at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, Kvitova has now won back-to-back titles for the first time since 2011 and will return to the Top 10 on Monday for the first time since June 2016.

With her Doha run, Kvitova’s record against Top 10 opposition in 2018 is now 6-0 and she will surge up the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard to No.4. Not too shabby for a woman who started the season at No.29.

WTATennis.com

Interview: Qatar Total Open, SF

Saturday, February 17, 2018 || P. KVITOVA def. C. Wozniacki 3-6, 7-6, 7-5

Q. Hello, Petra.

Hello Courtney.

Q. You said on court that you kind of maybe were mentally kind of all over the place a little bit for a couple of sets. Can you kind of talk about that?

A couple of sets.

Q. I don’t know. I mean you explain it.

Yeah. I felt it like that. I was going to the court and I was like — I knew that I need to play aggressive and going for the winners. I know that she is like catching everything, which she did. And I just probably wasn’t as patient with the balls and with all the winners. And was just a little bit overall plays and I just play everywhere.

So in the second set when I was still down and I was just trying to calm a little bit and just be more like with me and not like putting that much pressure on myself and on all the winners and just try to probably move her a little bit, but not like crazy. So that’s what I tried. And I was just counting like point by point and didn’t really look to pass or too much forward. So that was good one. And I was still kind of like down and I was trying to get back, and then suddenly, yeah, in the third was pretty tough to serve it out.

Q. I mean did you feel as though — I mean was there — did you feel like there was additional pressure today maybe because of the opponent, how well she was playing or fatigue or tension or anything?

I think that she really played great, compared to Beijing was different match. I think she really like improved. She gets almost everything, and with the high ball it was still like before the line. So I was like lots of work to do with me, which probably that’s why I’m tired now.

But yeah, I mean she was serving better. She was like mixing the serve as well. So it was pretty tough to read it. And yeah, she catch almost everything. And I didn’t really went too much forward because she has great like those cross-courts and couldn’t really play any volleys as well. So tough.

Q. But you won.

Well, yeah. I don’t know why, but —

Q. 12 consecutive wins. You’ve beaten three I think Top 10 players this week. Haven’t had an easy draw. What have you been the proudest of over the span of the last three weeks going into the final here?

Just told my coach today that I’m pretty proud of myself when I was kind of adapting for the outdoor conditions, coming from St. Petersburg in Fed Cup. This was what came to my mind today during the warmup. And I hope that like all the work which I did in the off season hopefully it’s just showing up. So like all the fitness which I did, I think I’m pretty okay today with Caroline. I’ve been there for the rallies. I know it wasn’t an easy match playing three sets. With Caroline it’s not really pretty easy. So that’s where I’m proud of myself.

Q. You’re one win away from Top 10. How important is that or how proud would you be of that?

Well, I didn’t know until this time. I’m not sure if it’s good now.

Q. We take it back.

Can you? (Laughs). Okay. Doesn’t matter probably. I mean, well, I expect if I gonna play well, my ranking will go a little bit better. But I think I’m not really thinking about the Top 10. I’m thinking about the final. That’s important right now and I don’t really care what is the number. But I’m really proud that I’m still in the draw. I could have lost twice already, at least. And I’m still here. So that’s very amazing for me. And it’s another tough opponent tomorrow. So I’m just thinking about the title, not about the Top 10.

Q. And how tough or jealous are you that Muguruza had a day off?

Yeah. What I can say? It’s probably good for her. It’s not really easy to play night match, so it’s not really easy, but maybe — you know, I don’t really know what’s in her mind when she has a day off. So I don’t really care. I think tomorrow will be another day, another match. And nobody will look what was yesterday. So we’ll see.

Q. And then when you played in Melbourne, did you ever — do you ever look back and think like how you felt then versus how you feel now? Like you’re on an amazing win streak and Melbourne would have been a really tough loss.

I’m trying not to. Of course sometimes there are some thoughts on that match, but on the other hand, I’m proud how I took it and how everything just is different right now. So I’m looking positively, and I’m trying just to be here and not really think about the past which I couldn’t change anyway. So trying.

Q. Petra, you’re playing Garbiñe tomorrow. Can you talk about that match a little bit, what sort of expectations do you have of her game and how do you prepare for that?

I think it will be a different game compared to today for sure. She’s aggressive player, and she will really go for that. I think that she will try to put the pressure on me, and that’s what I’m going to try as well. So it will be kind of similar game plans. And she’s serving very well as well. She’s nearby the baseline, pushing the opponents. And I think I’m just going to try to be the first one who is going to push her.

Q. Recently you played many matches, tough matches. So I was wondering, your left hand and the fingers. Do you feel any like soreness or stiffness —

No.

Q. It’s completely okay?

Yeah. It’s very good. So I feel almost everything on my body, not my fingers and my hand, which it’s great.

Q. You think what happened to you like one and a half years ago are just pastor do you still think about you are still on the way to coming back?

I think I came back already, which it’s good. I’m playing. Yeah, I still do have some flashbacks sometimes of the past and what’s happened. But it’s not that often as it used to be. So that’s good thing as well and for me mentally. When we talk about the hand, it’s good as well, so then it reminds me that often as well, I really need to be focusing on the hand and see the scars, but I’m not doing that. So then it’s better.

Q. Petra, what has the recovery process been like this week, like after —

You see how late I am.

Q. Hence why I’m asking. I mean is it —

Sorry for that.

Q. No, it’s okay. I mean is it just a lot of massage, ice packs? Is there anything differently you’re doing this week compared to what you had to do in St. Petersburg?

It’s kind of similar, but I do feel like kind of spots on the body which is not that great. So probably that’s why I took a little bit longer, I’m focusing on those places on the body. But overall it’s about the massages and trying to eat well and whatever it’s happened. But I don’t like food anymore which is pretty annoying as well.

Q. You don’t like food anymore?

Well, I can’t really eat. You know, when you are tired, you don’t really have a taste to eat. So that’s in my level now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Petra roars past Wozniacki, gets Muguruza in Doha final

With her back against the wall, Petra Kvitova made another one of her famous three-set comebacks to out-hit World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki and take her place in the Qatar Total Open final, where Garbine Muguruza awaits.

Last year’s finalist Wozniacki came into the matchup having lost her last three hardcourt meetings against Kvitova – a streak dating back to 2015 New Haven – but coming off a torrid run of form that had seen her notch 12 semifinal victories in a row.

That streak came to an end against Kvitova’s relentless attacking as the Czech game back from a set and a break down to win 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-5.

After lifting the trophy in St. Petersburg and notching a pair of Fed Cup victories, Kvitova extends her own winning streak to 12 in a row, the second-best winning streak of her career. And, should she triumph in the championship match, the No.21-ranked Kvitova has a shot at return to the WTA’s Top 10.

A Kvitova victory looked far away for much of the first set and a half, though. A scrappy, error-prone game from the Czech handed Wozniacki the first break of the match at 4-2, though Kvitova grabbed it right back with a barrage of forehand winners in the next game. But Wozniacki stayed focused and reeled off the next two games to take the opening set as Kvitova’s form continued to take a dip.

Wozniacki’s dogged defending absorbed Kvitova’s firepower and drew out the errors from the Czech’s racquet, and Wozniacki started the second with another break for a 2-0 lead. Kvitova raised her level considerably to pull of a slew of hotshot-worthy winners and get the break back at 3-3. Stayed toe to toe for the rest of the set until four straight breaks of serve at the end of the set – with Wozniacki serving for the match twice – left them level.

The tug of war continued in the tiebreak, with Wozniacki grabbing the early mini-break and Kvitova roaring back to make it 3-3. Pumped up, Kvitova raised her intensity and reeled off the last four points to send the match into a third set.

With both players dialed in, the third set featured tense and close games as the first eight games went to the server, the momentum swing between the two. This time, it was Kvitova who was broken while serving for the match, as the players traded breaks at 5-4. But Kvitova didn’t let it get away from her, saving her best tennis for last to close out the nearly two-hour and 40-minute battle.

“[It’s] definitely disappointing when I had a chance to serve it out twice in that second set,” Wozniacki said in her post-match press conference. “I didn’t get many first serves in in the first game, and in the second game she played aggressively and I made a few unforced errors.

“I felt that was frustrating because I had my opportunities there.”

Kvitova finished the match with a dizzying 50 winners, far outpacing Wozniacki’s 14 and outweighing her own 59 unforced errors. She also fired off five aces and 11 double faults, winning 66 percent of points behind her first serve.

Through to the final in Qatar for the first time in her career, Kvitova will take on Garbine Muguruza for a shot at taking home two WTA titles in a row.

Courtesy of WTATennis.com