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 GarbiƱe Muguruza or No.31 seed Magdalena Rybarikova in the fourth round.