LONDON, England - The WTA's newest Top 20 player keeps climbing to greater heights - Kirsten Flipkens battled into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal on Monday, edging Flavia Pennetta in a tight first set then cruising through the second set to make the final eight at The Championships, 76(2) 63.
Pennetta had the upper hand several times in the first set - she was up an early break, then again went up 5-3, and even served for the set again at 6-5 - but the No.20-seeded Flipkens kept her at bay with her mix of big forehands and slice backhands, sneaking out the set and then rolling from there.
The result is especially meaningful for Flipkens given she wasn't even able to play Wimbledon a year ago - she missed much of the spring due to blood clots and her ranking wasn't high enough. But she has come back from that a new player, winning her first WTA title in Québec City last fall, reaching her first Grand Slam second week in Australia, breaking the Top 20 a few weeks ago, and now this.
Flipkens' joy at reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal was evident on Twitter afterwards:
"I was pretty nervous - I knew I had quite a good chance to beat her and be in the quarterfinals here," Kvitova said. "I didn't play my best today, especially in the first set, but the important thing was to fight, stay positive and win the last point, and that's what I did, so I'm very happy about the match today."
Reaching the quarterfinals here is nothing new for Kvitova - this is her fourth straight time making it into the final eight here, having been a semifinalist in 2010 (falling to Serena Williams), the champion in 2011 (beating Maria Sharapova in the final) and a quarterfinalist in 2012 (falling to Williams again).
Flipkens leads Kvitova in their head-to-head series, 2-1, including winning their only 2013 meeting.
"I lost to her the last time we played in Miami, so I hope I can play better tennis than I did in that match," Kvitova said. "We've never played on grass, which will be quite difficult against her, as she's playing quite well. Otherwise she wouldn't be in the quarterfinals. I have to be prepared for it."