Monday 19 February 2018

Kvitova putting horrific incident behind her with return to form

Kvitova dropped only six points on her serve in the opening set and converted all three of her break points.
Kvitova dropped only six points on her serve in the opening set and converted all three of her break points.

Paul Newman

After the initial euphoria surrounding her return to competition, life has not always been easy for Petra Kvitova.

In June the two-time Wimbledon champion won her second comeback event following the horrific knife attack on her at the end of last year, but she arrived here at the US Open having failed to win two matches in a row in any of her previous five tournaments.

However, you would never have guessed that the 27-year-old Czech had been struggling for consistency as she opened proceedings in Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday.

Having beaten Jelena Jankovic and Alize Cornet in straight sets in her first two matches, Kvitova cruised through her third-round meeting with France's Caroline Garcia, winning 6-0, 6-4 in 73 minutes with a combination of bold serving and thunderous ground strokes.

This has never been Kvitova's favourite Grand Slam tournament - she has one quarter-final appearance to show from her nine previous visits - but the conditions this week have been more to her liking than they can be at the year's concluding Grand Slam event.

The world No 14 can struggle in the heat and humidity, but with the temperature just 18C on a bright and fresh morning she was in her element.

Hitting the ball cleanly from the start, Kvitova dropped only six points on her serve in the opening set and converted all three of her break points.

Garcia, the world No 19, made a better start to the second set, but at 3-3 Kvitova made what proved to be the decisive break of serve.

Garcia went 0-40 down when Kvitova smacked a forehand winner down the line, brought the score back to deuce, but then netted a forehand on the fifth break point of the game.

Serving at 3-5, Garcia saved two match points, firstly with a backhand winner and then with a big forehand down the line.

In the following game, however, her netted backhand gave Kvitova her third match point, which she converted with her sixth ace.

Kvitova said afterwards that she had been most pleased with her serve and her movement. "I know that Caroline can be very tricky," she said. "I lost to her the last time we met in the Fed Cup."

The Czech will now play Garbine Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion, who beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1. "I don't actually care who I'm going to play," Kvitova said with a smile in her post-match on-court interview.

After what she has been through, Kvitova is clearly just happy to be competing again. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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