MADRID, Spain -- No.10 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic fought through a closely contested battle with Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit at the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday, ultimately prevailing 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, to advance to the quarterfinals.
The two-time champion in Madrid recovered from a first-set collapse to clinch the three-set encounter in two hours and 16 minutes, claiming her eighth straight match win, including a title at the J&T Banka Prague Open in her home country last week.
Kvitova will face either home nation favorite No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain or No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia in the quarterfinals, as they will face off on Manolo Santana Court on Wednesday evening.
Kvitova opened the match well, cracking the first set open by breaking the Kontaveit serve at 1-1 on her sixth break point of the protracted game. The Czech used her powerful forehand and vaunted serve to win her next three service games with ease, as she raced to a 5-3 lead in the opener.
But Kontaveit refused to succumb so easily, and with Kvitova serving for the set at 5-4, the Estonian used a crosscourt backhand to reach double break point. There, on her first opportunity in the set, Kontaveit broke serve, leveling the set at 5-5 when Kvitova hit a long forehand unforced error.
The combatants advanced to the tiebreak, which went with serve to 3-3. But after the change of ends, Kvitova gave up the crucial mini-break with another forehand miscue long. Kontaveit seized the moment, hitting two aces in a row to reach 6-3 and triple set point. On the second chance, the Estonian forced a Kvitova error into the net, and Kontaveit had stolen the set from under the Czech's nose.
However, much like their previous match in Cincinnati last year, Kvitova would drop the first set but come back in the second. In a carbon copy of the opening set, the two-time Wimbledon champion would claim an early advantage, chasing down a drop shot and forcing a wide error with her reply to break for 2-0.
Kvitova stunningly held her next three service games at love, as the second set progressed in the same manner as the first. But, again, Kvitova struggled to serve out the frame, as the Czech had to stave off three break points at 5-3. In this instance, though, Kvitova's power hitting bailed her out of trouble, and she squeaked through that game to level the match at one set apiece.
For the third straight time, Kvitova broke Kontaveit early, taking a 2-1 lead when another bludgeoned forehand forced an error from the Estonian. The Czech quickly fell behind 0-40 in her next service game, but, as a light rain began to fall, she rebounded, earning a hard-fought 3-1 lead with a forehand winner down the line.
A brutal crosscourt service return winner on break point at 4-2 gave Kvitova a two-break advantage, but, as the pattern dictated, she had trouble serving out the match, being quickly broken by Kontaveit at 5-2. But Kontaveit could not garner momentum, and, in the following game, a wide forehand error on the second match point gave Kvitova the victory after a challenging tilt.
Kvitova and Kontaveit were preceded on Pista 4 by French No.7 seed Caroline Garcia’s 6-2, 6-4 victory over No.11 seed Julia Goerges of Germany. Garcia improved her perfect head-to-head record against Goerges to 3-0 in an hour and 20 minutes.
"[Goerges has] been very consistent so far this year, and very aggressive with her serve and forehand," Garcia told the media afterwards. "She’s always very dangerous, so I had to be consistent from the beginning of the match until the end, with a lot of intensity, and it worked well for me. I always tried to be aggressive, and it was efficient today."
An early break to lead 2-0 was all it took for Garcia to get off to a flying start over Goerges. Garcia won 77 percent of points on her first serve in the opening frame, being much more effective on her delivery than Goerges, despite six aces for the German in the set.
Goerges had chances to break back at 2-0 and 3-1, but was unable to convert her break points in either game, and Garcia held firm to reach a 5-2 lead. The Frenchwoman dominated on her service returns in the next game, garnering five set points. Goerges fended the first four off, but pushed a drop shot into the net to lose serve and hand Garcia a one-set lead.
Both players held onto their serves easily for the greater part of the second set -- Garcia in particular ran rampant there, dropping only four points on serve. It was only in the final game of the set where either player faltered.
In that game, a strong return by Garcia forced an error by Goerges to knot the game at 30-30, and then a wide backhand by Goerges set up Garcia’s first match point. The German saved it with a powerful forehand, but another exceptional service return brought up a second match point. This time, Garcia nailed a backhand winner to fly into the quarterfinals in Madrid for the first time since 2014.
Garcia will face a home country heroine in the quarterfinals: Spain's Carla Suárez Navarro, who overcame American qualifier Bernarda Pera, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, earlier on Wednesday. "Carla, she’s in front of her Spanish fans, so she’s very motivated, and she has a perfect clay-court game," said Garcia. "So it’s going to be an interesting one, and I have to play my best for sure."
"It’s a good experience when you have to face a player from the country where you play," Garcia continued. "I have to be ready for it, and it’s part of tennis, and it’s also nice when there is a lot of people cheering."
More to follow...