Kvitova Battles Past Suárez, Serena Wins
Published January 19, 2012 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - Several seeds were picked off on a hot and windy Thursday afternoon at the Australian Open but the top ones all managed to pull through, none coming closer to losing than Petra Kvitova, who had to hang on tight to survive talented Spaniard Carla Suárez Navarro, 62 26 64.
After cruising through the first set the No.2-seeded Kvitova lost her way somewhat, dropping the second set and falling behind 2-0 in the third - but she tidied her game up just in time to hold off the Spaniard, whose classy one-handed backhand has taken her to two Grand Slam quarterfinals in her career, at the 2008 French Open and right here at the 2009 Australian Open.
Other marquee names moving on were No.4 seed Maria Sharapova, who won the first eight games of a 60 61 win over American qualifier Jamie Hampton; No.7 seed Vera Zvonareva, who recovered from a 5-3 second set deficit to close out hard-hitting Czech Lucie Hradecka, 61 76(3); and No.12 seed Serena Williams, who held off a second set surge - she originally led 60 41 - to close out feisty Czech player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 60 64.
It was Williams' 500th career match victory. "It's great. I haven't even really thought about it yet. It's like the ultimate. The first thing I asked, of course, is there anyone that achieved a thousand? I guess not. I will never get there either. But it's really cool. It's a lot of matches to play, let alone win, so it's pretty cool."
Williams was asked if she remembered her first Australian Open win back in 1998. "Yeah, I played Spirlea. Wow, that was a good win. She was seeded."
She was then asked if the Spirlea win was a revenge match for the family. "Oh, this is 50 years later," she added. "If it was, we've definitely let it go."
This Australian Open will be even more special, as Williams will be playing mixed doubles with Andy Roddick - her first time playing mixed doubles at a Grand Slam since 1999. She has quite a career in it though - two titles.
"I heard about the draw. It's a tough first round. But we're always up for a challenge," she commented. "I'll let Andy serve first. I was thinking I should, but I'll let him feel like a macho man and let him start serving."
No.14 seed Sabine Lisicki, No.21 seed Ana Ivanovic and No.30 seed Angelique Kerber all won through in straight sets, but several others weren't so lucky, with No.15 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova falling to Vania King, 57 63 64; No.23 seed Roberta Vinci losing to Auckland champion Zheng Jie, 64 62; No.25 seed and Brisbane winner Kaia Kanepi losing to Ekaterina Makarova, 62 75; and No.29 seed Nadia Petrova to Sara Errani, 62 62.
King, a Top 10 player in doubles trying to work her way up the singles ranks, is through to the third round of a Slam for the fourth time, also going this far at the 2009 US Open, 2011 French Open and 2011 US Open.
"The first set I was pretty nervous. I was pretty stressed the whole first set. I had a lot of chances," the 22-year-old told ESPN's Pam Shriver on court. "In the second set I was able to relax a bit and focus on my gameplan, which was opening the court. When Anastasia dictates she's stronger than me, so I had to use my other strengths. And I knew anything could change at any moment.
"Doubles has given me confidence to play against the top players. After playing so many of them in doubles, I wasn't so scared of them anymore. I've been working hard on my singles and just enjoying it and trying my best."