AO QF: Petra blasts past Barty into Melbourne semifinals, ensures new World No.1

An imperious No.8 seed Petra Kvitova turned up the heat against No.15 seed Ashleigh Barty in today’s second Australian Open quarterfinal, powering into the last four of a major for the first time in nearly five years 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and eight minutes.

The result ensures that Simona Halep will be deposed as World No.1 next week: Kvitova has now overtaken the Romanian’s points total, while Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova all also having a mathematical shot at overtaking her.

The Czech has won a Tour-leading six titles over the past 12 months, including in Sydney two weeks ago – where she edged Barty in a classic 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) final. However, having reached five Grand Slam semifinals or better in a five-year span between Wimbledon 2010 and Wimbledon 2014 – including one previous appearance in Melbourne in 2012 – she had failed to progress to that stage in the five years since capturing her second major title at The Championships in 2014.

Kvitova ended that drought in style today, roaring out of the gates with a purple patch of varied, free-flowing ballstriking that ensured a much quicker win than the Sydney epic. A bombardment of backhands blasted past the Australian – 25 winners would come off the 28-year-old’s racquet today – with that heady brew leavened by the subtle touch of three judiciously timed, carefully placed dropshots.

The former World No.2 was also clutch in two crucial mini-battles, breaking Barty in the second game on her third opportunity with a backhand return aimed squarely at her opponent’s feet – and then, having dug herself a hole in the next game with a double fault, patiently constructing a rally that she ended with a clever forehand angle to save break point before holding for 3-0. Thereafter, Kvitova accelerated towards the end of the set, breaking the crowd favorite again to love in the sixth game.

Barty, attempting to become the first Australian semifinalist here since Wendy Turnbull in 1984, drew on the fullest range of her extensive repertoire in a bid to halt the deluge of Kvitova winners. Over the course of the second set, the Zhuhai Elite Trophy champion brought out slices, clever geometric patterns to get her opponent on the run, deft net play and even a rare double-fisted backhand return winner. Barty also raised the efficacy of her serve, mixing up its direction more – and this paid off, with the 22-year-old conceding just four points in her first four service games of the set.

Instead, for the majority of the set it was Kvitova under pressure. The 26-time WTA titlist was forced to save a break point in each of her first two service games – but once again was rock solid to stave off a potential turning point, hammering down an ace to save the first and a booming wide serve to save the second, closing out both games with yet more backhand rockets beyond Barty’s reach.

Forced to go for more and more just to cling on, Barty’s higher-risk tactics frequently ended in error for the first-time major quarterfinalist: a lob that dropped just long, aggressive finishing shots that missed their mark. Moreover, Kvitova was adjusting to the variety, displaying superb reflexes and reach at net to survive being dragged into the forecourt by a Barty dropshot.

With the score level at 4-4, the two-time Wimbledon champion pounced, upping the ante on her backhand to put pressure on her rival’s serve. Barty, struggling to keep up with the pace, dropped serve thanks to two errant forehands – and Kvitova would serve out to 30, sealing victory with a smash and an unreturnable serve to notch up her second Australian Open semifinal and first in seven years.

Source: WTATour.com

AO 4th Rd: Petra ends Anisimova dream run

No.8 seed Petra Kvitova is through to her first quarterfinal in Melbourne since 2012 after ending American youngster Amanda Anisimova’s dream run at the Australian Open.

The 17-year-old Anisimova’s shocker against Aryna Sabalenka, the No.11 seed, turned heads in the tennis world and backed up her big wins over Lesia Tsurenko and Monica Niculescu.

But she crashed down to earth against the two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who drew from her long experience to steamroll to victory in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour.

In a way, the match marks a coming full-circle against Kvitova: it was against the Czech player that Anisimova made her historic breakthrough last year at Indian Wells, becoming the youngest person in 13 years to defeat a Top 10 player when she snapped Kvitova’s 14-match winning streak.

“I think it was kind of different time when I played her in Indian Wells,” Kvitova said in her post-match press conference. “I was pretty tired from the winning streak. I played a lot of matches… I didn’t feel physically and mentally did well as I did today.

“Actually I know [how] she’s playing this time, as well. It was kind of different preparation or mindset, which I knew which she’s going to play pretty aggressive from the beginning. That’s what I needed to do first. I think I did well this time.”

 

The No.8 seed Kvitova wouldn’t let herself meet the same fate again on Sunday at the Australian Open, playing against Anisimova on Rod Laver Arena.

She rained down 18 winners against the American, keeping Anisimova’s big game contained to just eight winners.

Anisimova’s own unforced errors didn’t help her cause, racking up 20 against Kvitova’s 15. But it was the Czech’s strong serving that made the difference – she fired just one ace but won 83% of points behind her powerful first serve, keeping Anisimova firmly out of the contest.

Up next for Kvitova, she sets up a rematch of the Sydney final against No.15 seed Ashleigh Barty. Barty downed former champion and No.30 seed Maria Sharapova in a three-set classic later in the day.

“It will be different, for sure,” Kvitova said. “It will be not the final, as we played in Sydney, which was great match, very exhausted.

“But she is a different kind of player when she’s mixing it up a bit. She’s playing different serve, as well. She has the kick. It’s just different kind of player than I faced today, for example. But will be fun one.

“I mean, Australians, of course, will be on her side, but that was the same in Sydney. So I’m, you know, kind of used to it,” she added, smiling.

 

WTATennis.com

 

AO 3rd Rd: Petra blasts past Bencic to reach AO 2nd week

No.8 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic made it into the second week of a Grand Slam event for the first time in over a year at the Australian Open on Friday, dispatching Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, 6-1, 6-4, in a third-round meeting.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova failed to advance past the third round at any of the majors last season, but was able to break her duck already in 2019 after easing past 49th-ranked Bencic in a comprehensive 68-minute encounter.

Former Top 10 player Bencic held a respectable 13-13 win-loss record against Top 10 players coming into the match, but Kvitova had emerged victorious in both of their prior meetings, and picked up a third straight win by winning a massive 86 percent of points on her first serve, and firing 32 winners to only 19 unforced errors.

In the fourth round, Kvitova will now play one of the surprise packages of the tournament, 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova of the United States. Anisimova moved into the fourth round of a Grand Slam event for the first time in her career when she outhit No.11 seed Aryna Sabalenka, 6-3, 6-2, earlier on Friday.

 

WTATennis.com

AO 2nd Rd: Petra charges past Begu into 3rd round

No.8 seed Petra Kvitova put on a dominant display to defeat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and nine minutes to extend her winning streak to seven and move into the third round of the Australian Open.

The Sydney champion slammed 26 winners and dropped serve only once en route to her fourth win in as many meetings with Begu. The result means that Kvitova, who currently holds a Tour-leading six titles, progresses to the last 32 in Melbourne for the fourth time in her career, and first since 2015.

Kvitova would begin sharply, using her power to rush and rattle her opponent. A forceful forehand return prevented Begu from closing out her first service game at 40-15, and the shaken Romanian coughed up two double faults to concede the first break instead.

The Czech’s shotmaking went from strength to sublime strength. In the third game, she chased down a Begu dropshot and flicked a perfect backhand winner into the corner; en route to breaking for 4-0, she conjured up a ridiculous right-handed forehand lob winner despite being wrong-footed.

Begu was able to come up with a handful of highlights in the first set, showing off her scrambling abilities and net play on occasion, but the four-time WTA titlist had no sustained answer to Kvitova. The former World

No.2 opened the door a fraction by dropping her serve to love in the fifth game, but this proved a mere blip en route to a 27-minute opening set.

The second set brought déjà vu for Begu: once again, her serve would prove to be her undoing, with her fourth double fault handing a break point to Kvitova in the third game. Moving into net with intent, Kvitova took it promptly.

Conversely, it was the two-time Wimbledon champion’s serve that staved off any possibility of getting dragged into a dogfight. A six-deuce, ten-minute tussle ensued on Kvitova’s serve as the World No.170 tried desperately to claw her way back into the match, again showing off her reflexes at net. But on each of three break points, Kvitova pulled an unreturnable first serve out of her pocket – and eventually closed the game out with one of her three aces of the day.

Though Begu, who had not held serve in the first set, had now settled somewhat on her own delivery to keep the second closer, Kvitova struck again in the final game, upping the ante on return. An ill-advised drive volley over the baseline brought up a first match point, and Kvitova seized it with a fizzing inside-out forehand winner.

Next up for Kvitova in her bid to reach the second week in Melbourne for the first time since her 2012 semifinal run will be former World No.7 Belinda Bencic, after the Swiss player came through a dramatic 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 encounter over Yulia Putintseva.

 

WTATennis.com

AO 1st Rd: Petra comes good to blow by Rybarikova

Petra Kvitova, the No.8 seed, moved through to the second round of the Australian Open thanks to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Magdalena Rybarikova.

The champion of Sydney from last week won the opening two games of a match switched to the 1573 Arena but struggled to find her rhythm against her 30-year-old opponent, who did her best to hang onto the powerful Czech.

In a whirlwind second, the WTA World No.6 found her best level and amid an avalanche of winners moved through in only 67 minutes.

She was not at her best in the opening set, with her usually reliable serve misfiring. Indeed, she served as many double faults as she did aces and made just 45% of her first deliveries.

With her groundstokes unpredictable, it made for an awkward and error-riddled first that saw the WTA World No.8 largely on top though coming through only thanks to a single break of serve.

The Kvitova who stormed brilliantly to victory at the Sydney International by beating Ashleigh Barty on Saturday was far more evident in the second, despite losing the opening game to love.

Her first serve regained its accuracy and, consequently, her opponent was not given a single serious look of getting back into the match once she had been broken at 1-1. Indeed, Kvitova had two chances to move a double break clear in the fifth game only for Rybarikova to win four points in succession.

But the form of the 28-year-old was now irresistible as she found winners from all over the court with unerring accuracy. A double break was soon added and she confidently stormed through when serving for the match, finishing the second set with an incredible 19 winners to just six unforced errors.

Irina-Camelia Begu is up next for Kvitova, whose second-set performance will have made others sit up and take note.

 

WTATennis.com

Sydney Interview

Saturday, 12 January 2019 – Petra Kvitova Press Conference

P. KVITOVA/A. Barty 1-6, 7-5, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It looked like you had to dig really deep for that one.

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah.

 

Q. Take us through how it felt.

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, it’s true. I left everything out there. I was cramping in the end. It wasn’t the best.

But, you know, she’s Aussie, so she used to these conditions. I played three times in the night, so for me it was totally different conditions, which from the beginning I feel very, very slow. So it just took me a while to get used to the rhythm and get back to the play.

It was such a great final, to be honest, I think. It was a big fight until the end. That’s the way final should be, I think.

 

Q. When you went down 6-1 in the first set, what do you say to yourself?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, I was still staying pretty positive. I knew that I’m tired, I’m slow, but I was just trying to get back to the rallies and wait.

The key was probably the serve that I gonna try to hold the serve and maybe wait for the chance if she doesn’t have great game, which that came in the end of the second set and that helped me a lot.

But I was down a break in the third again, so I really had to fight and came back in the third, as well.

 

Q. How challenging was it, two really late features. Did that make things harder to come in today?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah. Yeah, the conditions were different compared to three matches which I played before. Luckily we had no rain today (smiling).

Yeah, it was pretty hard. She mixed it a lot. She was different opponent which I had before, as well. So it was a bit challenging this time, for sure.

 

Q. Was it cramps? At times it looked like you were grabbing your leg.

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, I didn’t feel the best. I was exhausted. I had cramps, as well. I didn’t feel well from my stomach, as well. It was a long match, and I really need lots of energy, so every time I was on the bench I was still eating something. It was a lot of sugar (smiling). My stomach just feel weird right now, but doesn’t really matter, right? Yeah.

 

Q. You fly down tomorrow?

PETRA KVITOVA: I’m flying tonight.

 

Q. And then resting up for most of tomorrow?

PETRA KVITOVA: Well, I’m probably going to hit tomorrow. I’m playing Monday. So I need to kind of get used to those conditions. I mean, the balls are same, but, you know, it’s different place, different court, so we will see how the surface will look like, but probably I’m going to hit tomorrow.

 

Q. Just a word on Ash. She’s our girl.

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, sure.

 

Q. What’s it like to face her?

PETRA KVITOVA: I really like Ash. She’s a great competitor. She’s a very nice person off the court, as well.

I feel sorry for her that she couldn’t make it today, unfortunately, but, you know, I mean, she really put everything out there today, and she really played a great game.

She served very well, as well. She had a great run to the final. Unfortunately she was in the final last year, as well.

It’s not the best for her, but she’s very talented. Even like she stop with the tennis and she came back, and she’s playing unbelievable. It’s only great things to her.

 

Q. Do you think she will crack the top 10? Do you think she has it in her to crack the top 10?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, I think she has it, yeah. For sure if she gonna play like this whole season, then there is no chance she will not make it.

 

Q. She’s seemed to beat more top 10 opponents I guess in the last week or so, last few months. Is that something you girls in the top 10 have been noticing that she can play against high-ranked opponents now?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, I think it’s about experience, a bit, as well. I think she has the game to beat the top 10 players, but there is a few points always like when you decide it on which way it is, like it’s probably on the other side and on her, but it’s maybe about the time when it will be on her side.

 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 

Petra conquers Barty in classic Sydney championship

In a gripping final that went down to the wire, 2015 champion Petra Kvitova outlasted Ashleigh Barty via a final-set tiebreak to win the Sydney International for the second time in her career.

No.5 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic pulled off a comeback win in a Sydney International final barnburner on Saturday, outlasting top-ranked Aussie and crowd favorite Ashleigh Barty, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3), to win the title in Sydney for the second time.

2015 Sydney titlist Kvitova came into the championship match having won her last seven WTA finals and had beaten Barty both times they had played previously, including in the Birmingham final in 2017. The Czech dug deep to win her eighth straight final in a row, coming back from an 0-3 deficit in the final set and grasping the trophy after a grueling two hours and 19 minutes of play.

“I left everything out there, I was cramping in the end,” Kvitova told the media, during her post-match press conference. “It was such a great final, to be honest, I think. It was a big fight until the end. That’s the way [a] final should be.”

 

For a long portion of the match, it seemed that Barty would better her finish in Sydney last year, where she also reached the final but fell one win short of the title, losing to Angelique Kerber. But Kvitova prevailed despite being broken six times in the match, coming through via a whisker-thin margin in the final two sets. Kvitova finished with 31 winners, to Barty’s 23.

“It was pretty hard,” Kvitova admitted. “[Barty] mixed it [up] a lot. She was different opponent which I had before, as well. So it was a bit challenging this time, for sure.”

“I feel sorry for her that she couldn’t make it today, unfortunately, but she really put everything out there today, and she really played a great game,” Kvitova continued. “For sure, if she’s gonna play like this whole season, then there is no chance she will not make [the Top 10].”

 

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who led the WTA in singles titles last year with five, picked up her first trophy since defending her Birmingham title in June. As a result, 28-year-old Kvitova will see her ranking rise from World No.8 to No.6 on Monday.

 

More: WTATennis.com

Sydney: Petra takes midnight express past Sasnovich

No.5 seed Petra Kvitova had been forced to hang around for nearly five hours to begin her Sydney International semifinal – and was in no mood to extend that any further than necessary in overpowering qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and six minutes.

The win was sweet revenge for the No.1 WTA Upset of 2018, a 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 Wimbledon stunner in which Sasnovich had dismissed the Czech – the favorite for the title – in the very first round. Today, after heavy rain had prevented the match from starting until nearly midnight local time, Kvitova was razor-sharp in preventing a repeat, striking 22 winners and maintaining her focus throughout.

The very first point of today’s tilt was a booming backhand winner from the two-time Wimbledon champion – a foreshadowing of what was to come, as that wing rose to the occasion to become the star of this late-night show. A battering of brutal backhands broke the Belarusian from 40-0 up in the second game, a superlative angle off that side saved the first of three break points en route to a hold for 4-1, and three more backhand bangers – down the line, crosscourt, down the line – snatched a second break for 5-1.

In total, 10 of Kvitova’s 11 winners in the opening set came from the backhand – and, paired with clutch serving whenever Sasnovich threatened a momentum shift, it made for one-way traffic over the course of 30 minutes.

The World No.30 did not play badly by any means, and came up with several shots for the highlight reel: a canny dropshot here, a smoothly struck groundstroke winner there. But Kvitova, who came up with a ridiculous backhand pass en route to holding for 1-1 in the second set, was irresistible.

In the fifth game, her forehand joined the party, pummeling a spectacular return winner to reach break point and ultimately capturing the Sasnovich serve with a cleverly constructed point that the former World No.2 finished neatly at net.

Unable to find any sustained answers to the barrage, Sasnovich began hitting out too wildly and too soon, attempting high-risk shots even as she was being pushed back on her feet by her opponent’s power. Errant forehands put last year’s Brisbane runner-up down another double break, and Kvitova closed the contest out on her third match point with another booming serve to set up a repeat of the 2017 Birmingham final against local favorite Ashleigh Barty.

 

WTATennis.com

 

Petra powers to Sydney victory over Kerber

WTA World No.5 Petra Kvitova broke through the determined defence of Angelique Kerber to progress through to the semifinals of the Sydney International, beating the reigning champion 6-4, 6-1.

The encounter – the 13th between the pair – proved to be a late-night affair, finishing around 11:30pm local time after being interrupted on multiple occasions due to inclement weather.

After initially struggling to get going after the second rain break, Kvitova, who now leads the head-to-head between the pair 7-6, powered through to claim the opener and then maintained the momentum to take the second with a blistering array of winners.

Two stoppages due to the conditions meant that there was a rather staccato feel to the early stages of the match, which better suited the German player. Indeed, Kerber exploded out of the blocks after the second delay to break serve and even had two points to claim a double break.

Galvanised by the strong serving that allowed her to escape that situation, Kvitova soon found her groove, with her powerful, deep groundstrokes making inroads into the defence of her opponent.

Such was her accuracy, she rattled off four games in quick succession, hitting 16 winners in the process and boasting good numbers of serve.

There was little relent from the Czech at the beginning of the second set, although Kerber did at least manage to stem the flow of games against her by holding serve in the first game.

The German also did well to resist three break points her opponent created in the fourth game, with the No.5 seed putting away any short balls imperiously. On her fourth opportunity, she sent a backhand sizzling off the inside tramline, leaving Kerber helpless.

With Kvitova’s serve in full flow, there was little Kerber could do to prevent the match, and the title she was defending, slipping away from her.

The German remained dogged, saving three break points from 0-40 down in her following service game, but a double fault brought up a fourth, which was put away.

And Kvitova, serving with new balls, looked untroubled as she won the final game to 15.

Qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich is up next for Kvitova, who is just two steps away from reclaiming the title she won in 2015.

 

WTATennis.com

Sydney: Petra to face Kerber in quarterfinal

As Wednesday turned to Thursday at the Sydney International, former champion Petra Kvitova became the last player to book her spot in the quarterfinals with a 7-6(2), 6-2 victory over Hsieh Su-wei.

Behind 38 winners and a domintant performance off the ground, the No.5 seed advanced to a meeting with another former champion: last year’s winner and No.2 seed Angelique Kerber.

The 2015 champion moved quickly out of the gates in the opening set, dealing well with the World No.28’s unorthodox style to power her way to a 4-1 lead.

The two-time Wimbledon champion even held two break points for 5-1 in the next game, but Hsieh held on and slowly began to work her magic to get back into the match.

Hsieh saved a set point in the eighth game and broke Kvitova for the first time the next time she served, leveling the set with her easiest hold of the night for 5-5.

The 33-year-old continued to battle in the face of Kvitova’s firepower, saving another set point in her last service game of the set to send the match to a tiebreak, but ultimately the Czech No.1 asserted her authority to win the opening set after sprinting out to a 6-0 lead in the breaker.

Five of the first six games of the second set saw break points for the returner, but it was Kvitova who largely came through in the clutch as she fended off Hsieh the rest of the way.

The World No.8 broke in the first game, and later dug out of 0-40 in the fourth game to keep her lead before earning another for insurance.

Ultimately, Kvitova hammered 38 winners to 32 unforced errors over 96 minutes, as she landed 70 percent of her first serves and won 80 percent of the points played behind them to save seven of eight break points she faced.

 

WTATennis.com