STUTTGART, Germany - Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber needed two sets against fellow German player Andrea Petkovic to move into the quarterfinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, 6-2, 6-4.
Kerber, the No.5 seed, was originally scheduled to play a first-round match, but received a bye after Simona Halep’s withdrawal prompted a reshuffling of the seeds. Her new draw pitted her against wildcard Petkovic, her longtime friend and Fed Cup teammate, in their 12th career meeting.
“It’s never easy to play against someone you really know for such a long time,” Kerber admitted in her post-match press conference. “I mean, like everybody saw that we are really good friends.
“At the end, we just hugged each other. She said congrats to me and the dinner is on her,” Kerber added with a laugh.
Kerber got off to a fast start against Petkovic, breaking in the first game - but her lead didn’t last long as Petkovic broke straight back to make it 1-1. The German wildcard had chances to go up 3-1, but Kerber battled away the break points to hold for 2-2.
Unable to capitalize on that opportunity, Petkovic didn’t win another game as the set quickly slipped away from her. Kerber raised her level to reel off the next four games in a row, breaking twice to seal the set with a service winner.
Petkovic rallied to stay within touching distance of Kerber in the early exchanges of the second set, but much like in the first, things started getting a bit complicated after 2-2. Kerber broke first, getting ahead 3-2 - but Petkovic once again broke straight back to erase her lead.
A game later, Kerber was back in front as a Petkovic double fault handed her the decisive break at 4-3. The players stayed on serve as Kerber matched to the finish line, edging through to claim her fourth match point and win in straight sets after 74 minutes.
“I was really nervous at the beginning, because for me it was like the first match after a long time where I was not really able to have a good preparation on clay. First match on clay. Then here, against Petko. So, it was not an easy situation,” Kerber explained.
“I was trying to find my rhythm, especially at the beginning of the first set. And I think we both played good. I mean, it was few ups and downs during the match, and also at the end of the match where I got a little bit nervous. But I think this is normal.
“I mean I’m happy that I played like I played today after the last two weeks which are behind me now. And I was trying to really stay focused and trying to give everything I could today.”
The win puts Kerber through to her fifth career quarterfinal at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, a tournament she won in back-to-back years in 2015-2016.
Up next, Kerber will take on No.6 seed Kiki Bertens for a spot in the semifinals. Bertens fired 20 aces when came back from a set down against Belinda Bencic earlier in the day, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to advance.