Petra escapes Vekic challenge in marathon Miami clash

No.3 seed Petra Kvitova had to dig deep in her third round match at the Miami Open, needing three sets to see off the always-dangerous Donna Vekic, the No.26 seed, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in a two-and-a-half hour clash.

The Czech player bounced back in style after a disappointing fortnight in Indian Wells, recording strong a straight sets win over Maria Sakkari in her opening match in Miami. A quarterfinalist here in 2014, Kvitova’s win over Vekic puts her through to the fourth round for just the third time, and the second year in a row.

In a match between two heavy hitters, the player serving was constantly under pressure for much of the opening set. Both players traded breaks at the start, with Vekic breaking first and Kvitova bringing them back level at 1-1. A whopping 14 break chances were on offer in the next four games, with both players attacking the returns – but unable to convert, staying on serve at 3-3.

Kvitova seemed to find another gear as the set progressed, stepping into the court and adding variety to her game. This seemed to vex Vekic, who struck an untimely double fault to gift Kvitova a late break to make it 5-3 – but while trying to serve out the set, Kvitova replied with a double fault of her own, and Vekic quickly broke straight back. A flurry of forehand winners put Kvitova back in the drivers’ seat, and notched a final break to finally close out the set.

Vekic tidied up her game in the second set and cut down on the unforced errors – down to six total in the second compared to 17 in the first – and she was rewarded with an early double break for a 3-0 lead.

She stayed in control even as Kvitova rallied, getting one of the breaks back to cut down on the deficit. But she wasn’t able to turn things around as Vekic marched on to take the second set and bring them into a decider.

Kvitova got ahead early on in the third, notching a break to 15 in the opening game. She kept her nose in front even as Vekic threw everything her way, dodging break-back chances along the way at 3-1. The Czech continued her heavy pace, and Vekic couldn’t find any inroads on the strong Kvitova serve, and the two-time Wimbledon champion served it out to 15 to book her spot in the fourth round.