LONDON, England - After a nervous start to her first round match, Petra Kvitova battled some tense moments at the opposite end of her second round match on Thursday, fending off a late surge from Britain's Elena Baltacha and moving through to the third round in straight sets in her title defense.
Kvitova, the No.4 seed this year, won the first 10 games of her match against Baltacha, seemingly headed for a quick day at the office. But it ended up being anything but - Baltacha closed from 60 40 to 60 43, then fought off three match points before finally succumbing to the big-hitting World No.4, 60 64.
"It seemed very easy from the beginning, but the games were really close. I was trying to win the big points," Kvitova said. "In the second set I started to feel my back a little bit, so that's probably why I didn't play as well as I did in the start. And she was starting to play faster, taking more risks - that's why it was close.
"I have a stiff back, but I think it will be all right tomorrow."
Kvitova was also asked whether the pressure of being defending champion had dissipated since the first round. "I felt it when I played my first match, but today was really nicer for me, and easier," the Czech said. "I hope it's gone."
"In the second set she had a little bit of a dip - that's when I really tried to get stuck in, and I managed to climb my way back," Baltacha said. "Then she showed her class at the end. She came through it. That's why she won Wimbledon last year. She's a very, very classy player. I just wish the second set was the first set, and then who knows what could have happened today.
"She played absolutely unbelievable. She's a very classy player."
Baltacha was asked whether Kvitova could win the tournament again. "If she plays like that I think she will - how she played in the first set. You can just tell and sense when she's walking around. She believes she can do it again."
Other favorites winning later in the day were No.2 seed Victoria Azarenka, who crushed Romina Oprandi, 62 60; No.8 seed Angelique Kerber, who got past Ekaterina Makarova, 75 63; No.10 seed Sara Errani, who rolled past Anne Keothavong, 61 61; and No.14 seed Ana Ivanovic, who scored a 63 76(3) win over Kateryna Bondarenko, her first win in their three career meetings.
The only surprises of the day saw No.9 seed Marion Bartoli ousted by Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic, 64 63 (read more here) and Varvara Lepchenko beating No.31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 76(4) 64.
No.20 seed Nadia Petrova, No.21 seed Roberta Vinci, No.22 seed Julia Goerges, No.24 seed Francesca Schiavone, No.25 seed Zheng Jie, No.28 seed Christina McHale and unseeded players Klara Zakopalova, Yanina Wickmayer, Tamira Paszek and Yaroslava Shvedova also moved on.
Shvedova, who made a shock run to the quarterfinals of the French Open a few weeks ago and who received a wildcard into Wimbledon, had a 64 64 win over recent Fès champion Kiki Bertens. "I'm very happy to be in the third round of Wimbledon," the Kazakh said. "The grass is completely different to the clay at Roland Garros so I'm happy to show I can play well here too!"