NEW YORK, NY, USA -- No.5 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic came back from a break down in the second set to claim a 6-1, 6-4 victory over 2009 US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in the first round of the 2018 edition on Tuesday morning.
"Well, I think the score just looks easier than the match, probably," Kvitova stated, during her post-match press conference. "We were pretty aggressive from both sides. It was really about kind of missing one easy shot."
Kvitova and Wickmayer have had a closely-contested history, with Kvitova holding a slight 5-4 edge, and Wickmayer beat Kvitova en route to the final four at the US Open nine years ago. But in their first meeting since 2013, Kvitova got the job done, reeling off five straight games from 1-4 down to close out the 71-minute tilt.
"I just felt good from the beginning, when I played a really good game," Kvitova said. "I took her serve, and I think that helped me a lot to win the first set. But in the second, she came back. She took my serve. I didn't really play that great probably, and the chance from her serve came, which I was very pleased, obviously. And I took it, and that was really important for me to stay mentally in that match."
"I really tried hard not to play the third [set] in this kind of heat," Kvitova continued, with a smile.
Former World No.2 Kvitova had 28 winners to Wickmayer's eight during the match, including eight aces, and the Czech left-hander won nearly 80 percent of points on her vaunted first serve. The Czech has won five titles this year, and is celebrating her second week back in the Top 5 of the WTA rankings since an absence from that cohort dating back to October of 2015.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova moves into the second round in New York for the seventh consecutive year, where she will face either Wang Yafan of China or Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.
"We'll see how my body will handle everything," said Kvitova. "Hopefully I will not fall apart a bit. Mentally I'm ready. That's important. We'll see what the body will do."
"In the last couple of years, I think I kind of formed a love for New York City, so hopefully it will be same this year," Kvitova went on. "The first rounds are always like the worst for me. Today was a great one. So hopefully I'm gonna continue in the good performance."
Kvitova opened and closed out the first game with aces, and from there, the Czech was off to the races in a dominant first set. Kvitova broke for 2-0 after surviving a hard-hitting rally which Wickmayer ended with a wide backhand, and then held for 3-0 despite double-faulting twice in a row mid-game.
An error-prone Wickmayer kept the games close and the points challenging, but was unable to break through at the pivotal moments, as she watched a pristine Kvitova go up a double break en route to a 5-0 lead.
The Belgian player steadied her power game to get on the board at 5-1 and led 0-30 in the next game, but Kvitova regrouped and clinched four straight games to finish off the set. Kvitova was 2-for-2 on break points in the opening frame, while Wickmayer could not reach break point there.
Wickmayer turned the tables at the start of the second set, using her strong forehand more effectively to get looks in on the Kvitova delivery. After holding a break point in the Czech’s first service game of the set, Wickmayer finally came through on her next chance, breaking for a 3-1 lead as her forehand forced an error from Kvitova.
Following a quick hold for 4-1, Wickmayer was rolling while Kvitova seemed headed for another three-set encounter, which have become her custom of late (Kvitova is 17-4 in three-setters this season). But Kvitova began to fire huge returns back at Wickmayer, and she reclaimed the break to pull to 4-3.
After a crucial hold for 4-4, Kvitova once again started to take command, crushing two backhand winners during the next game to break the Belgian for 5-4. Serving for the match, Kvitova faced a break point, but Wickmayer sent a return wide on that opportunity. A subsequent ace gave Kvitova match point, and after Wickmayer netted a forehand there, the first-round match was complete.