MIAMI, FL, USA - No.3 seed Petra Kvitova has shaken off last week’s disappointing loss in emphatic style, powering back into the Miami Open third round after moving past Maria Sakkari in two tough sets.
The Czech No.1 came into Miami looking to continue where she started the season. Kvitova rose to the World No.2 ranking after winning Sydney and reaching finals at the Australian Open and Dubai. But an unfortunate draw at the BNP Paribas Open threatened to ground her momentum to a halt, recording a rare opening match loss after falling to an on-fire Venus Williams in a three-set heartbreaker.
Still, Kvitova proved in her Miami opening match that she’s already bounced back, taking down the always-dangerous Greek player Sakkari in two sets, 6-1, 6-4 to move into the third round.
“I think I never play Maria before. Actually, we didn't really practice, as well, so I didn't really know what I should expect,” Kvitova told press afterwards. “Every time I play someone who you don't know, it's kind of different and you need some games to kind of find out what she's playing and what she's not... That's I think that I did very well.”
She added, “You know, I had a bad match against Venus in Indian Wells, so it's been long time to wait for another match. I have been practicing, but you really never know what's coming in the match. I'm glad that I started pretty well, which helped me a lot today.”
Sakkari seemed to struggle with her serve throughout the match, and it gave Kvitova plenty of looks at the Greek’s more vulnerable second delivery. As a result, Kvitova was able to break early and build up a 3-0 lead. Kvitova quickly extended that to a double break at 5-1, and served out the set with confidence - she dropped on average just one point during her own service games.
But in the second set Sakkari showed signs of the tennis that saw her reach a career high of No.29 in the world last year, before neck and finger issues derailed her rise. She started with an early break, playing aggressive on the returns to create a 2-0 lead.
Kvitova didn’t panic, however, and replied with four games in a row to turn around the deficit into a 4-2 advantage after recording back-to-back breaks of serve. Sakkari’s service woes returned - she struck four double faults in the match, and three of those came in the second set alone.
As Kvitova closed in on the finish line, Sakkari saved match point at 5-3 with some big forehands, but couldn’t find inroads on the Czech’s own serve and Kvitova served out the match to claim victory after an hour and 10 minutes played.
The victory adds to her tour-leading number of main draw wins - she now owns 18 wins, and came into the tournament tied with youngsters Bianca Andreescu - the Indian Wells champion - and Belinda Bencic - winner of Dubai.
But there’s even more motivation here for Kvitova: she can also potentially rise to WTA World No.1 should she reach the final here for the first time.
Up next, the Czech lefty will face the winner between Sara Sorribes Tormo and No.26 seed Donna Vekic in her upcoming match.
Also in action today, Sam Stosur completed a second-round stunner to knock out No.17 seed Madison Keys in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. And No.7 seed Kiki Bertens had little trouble against Chinese teenager Wang Xiyu, easing through to a 6-4, 6-1 victory in just over an hour.