After a disappointing performance at Wimbledon, the always optimistic Petra Kvitova focused on the positives once again.
The Czech entered the grass-court grand slam as one of the title favourites. She had already won five trophies on the WTA Tour this season on three different surfaces – hard court, clay and grass. The most singles trophies won by a female player so far this year. Yet at Wimbledon, she crashed out in the first round to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in what was her worst performance at the tournament since 2009. Resulting in Kvitova taking a 10-day break from the sport.
“It was brilliant,” Kvitova said during media day at the Rogers Cup on Sunday. “I even had 10 days without tennis, without fitness, without anything. It was very important for my mind as well that I just shut off. I’ve played lots of tennis in the last couple of months. But now I get to get back on the tennis court, back to work.”
Kvitova will be hoping to return back to winning ways in Montreal this week where she is the eighth seed at the Rogers Cup. It will be her 10th appearance in the main draw of the tournament. The last time she won the Rogers Cup was back in 2012 after defeating Li Na in the final.
“It feels like it was a long time ago,” Kvitova commented about her 2012 triumph. “Six years is a lot actually. That day was just amazing. I do remember I was here alone, just me and my PR manager, no coaches, so it was a pretty free tournament for me. Obviously I played great tennis.
“Different things have happened in my life and in tennis since.”
With every player from the world’s top 10 set to play in Montreal, Kvitova is under no illusion about the tough task she faces. Should the draw go according to the seeds, she could play Karolina Pliskova in the third round followed by Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber. Although she is hoping to replicate the same success that she has enjoyed during the first six months of 2018.
“Consistency was always my problem in my season, in my game,” she explained. “I’ve never played a whole season well. I’m glad I played well the first half of this season. That’s what I’m trying to improve, my level of the game, to play a little bit higher all the time.”
It isn’t just the players that pose a threat. It is the climate tool. Temperatures are set to range between 25-30 degrees throughout the week with humidity expected to be a factor. A far from ideal situation for a player like Kvitova, who suffers from asthma.
“I’m really trying to do everything I can, especially improving my fitness. That’s probably what would be best for these kinds of conditions. But with my asthma, it’s tough to do something special. I have my inhaler, and sometimes I need to use it. Overall, I think when I’m feeling better physically, everything goes better.” She explained.
A title this week would reward Kvitova her third premier title of the season and tenth overall. Receiving a first round bye, she will open up her campaign against either Ekaterina Makarova or Anell Kontaveit.
Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova rallies from slow start to beat Belinda Bencic in Dubai
Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova came back from one set down to beat defending champion Belinda Bencic 1-6 6-1 6-1 in 1 hour and 30 minutes reaching the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Bencic reeled off the first 19 points of the match to win seven of the first eight games of the match. Pavlyuchenkova bounced back by winning 12 of the last 13 games to clinch her 15th career top 5 win. The Russian player clinched only the second of her six head-to-head matches against Bencic and her first victory against her Swiss rival since Washington 2015. Bencic had won her past three clashes against Pavlyuchenkova at the 2018 Hopman Cup, at Wimbledon 2019 and in the Moscow final 2019.
Bencic earned her first break in the second game after four consecutive unforced errors from Pavlyuchenkova. The Swiss player went up a double break to open up a 4-0 after Pavlyuchenkova made three double faults.
Pavlyuchenkova stopped a losing streak of 19 consecutive points in the fifth game at 15-40 down, but Bencic held her service game at deuce. Bencic missed a point for the bagel, as Pavlyuchenkova won her first game with a service winner. Bencic served out the first set in the next game with consecutive unreturned serves.
Bencic earned an early break at the start of the second set after two double faults from Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian player turned around the match by winning six consecutive games to win the second set 6-1.
Pavlyuchenkova broke at love in the second game and earned the second and third breaks in two deuce games. Pavlyuchenova won a return game for 5-1 with a drive volley and served out on his first set point, as Bencic sent her pass long.
Pavlyuchenkova earned an immediate break with three consecutive winners. The Russian player, who reached the final in Osaka and Moscow, went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead. Bencic pulled back one of the two breaks in the fourth game. Pavlyuchenova broke for the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. She broke Benci for the seventh consecutive time, as Bencic hit her backhand in the net.
“As soon as I won one or two points, I was like right, this is something I need to keep doing. I was trying to realize why I won it, what did I do right. I was just trying to find that rhythm”, said Pavlyuchenkova.
Marketa Vondrousova eases past Anastasija Sevastova in Dubai
Last year’s Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova eased past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-2 after 1 hour and nine minutes to reach the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Vondrousova saved all five break points she faced and converted three of her four chances. The Czech player built up a 4-1 lead with a break in the opening set. Sevastova earned two break-back points at 4-2, but Vondrousova held her serve after four deuces.
Sevastova held serve at love for 5-3 forcing Vondrousova to serve for the set. Vondrousova earned three set points with a dropshot winner and converted her first chance with a drop volley.
Vondrousova earned an early break to take a 2-1 lead in the second set and backed it up to open up a 3-1 lead. Vondrousova went up a double break in the seventh game and converted the first of her three match points with an ace to set up a second round match against either Elina Svitolina or US qualifier Jennifer Brady.
Vondrousova made her come-back at last January’s Australian Open after undergoing surgery last year.
“I know Sevastova is a good player. We played once. I expected a tough match. It was a late match, so I had to stay calm. I am just happy with my win”,said Vondrousova.
Ons Jabeur edges Alison Riske to advance to the second round in Dubai
This year’s Australian Open quarter finalist Ons Jabeur came through a tough battle to edge US Alison Riske 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 13 minutes in their first head-to-head match at the Dubai Duty Free Championships.
Jabeur hit 28 winners to 31 unforced errors, while Riske committed 34 unforced errors to just 11 winners.
Riske won the first eight points of the match to break serve in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Jabeur broke back in the fourth game with a forehand down the line to draw level to 2-2. Jabeur saved three break points in the seventh game to hold serve to hold serve for 3-4. Riske fended off two break points in the tenth game to hold serve for 5-5. Riske held serve in the 12th game to draw level to 6-6 after four double faults from Jabeur. The Tunisian player raced out to a 5-0 lead before closing out the first set on her fourth set point.
Riske went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead and closed out the second set with two dropshots. Jabeur received a medical time-out for blisters on both feet while she was trailing 0-5.
The third set started with four consecutive holds. Both players saved break points in the next four deuce games. Jabeur faced two break points at 3-3, but she saved them with two forehands before holding with a backhand winner. Jabeur converted her second break point chance at deuce to take a 5-3 lead before serving out the win at love. Jabeur will face Simona Halep in the second round.
World number 35 Barbora Strycova claimed five of the last six games of the third set to beta last year’s French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 6-4 after 2 hours and 33 minutes to advance to the second round. Strycova, who lost her only head-to-head match against Anisimova in Auckland last year, converted her second break point chance at deuce in the opening game. Anisimova broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Strycova earned her second break to take a 4-3 lead after unforced errors from Anisimova.
Anisimova broke serve at love to draw level to 5-5 and held serve without dropping a point to take a 6-5 lead. Strycova held serve at 30 to draw level to 6-6 before winning the tie-break 7-3.
Anisimova earned an early break in the first game with a backhand down the line. After an easy hold Anisimova broke twice in a row to draw level to a 5-0 lead. Strycova pulled back one of the three breaks in the sixth game but Anisimova served out the second match at 30 in the eighth game.
Anisimova went up a break twice in the third set to take a 4-3 lead, but Strycova broke back to draw level to 4-4. Strycova broke for the third time in the 10th game to win the third set 6-4 setting up a second round match against her doubles partner Hsieh Su-Wei or number 8 seed Petra Martic.
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