NEW YORK, NY, USA – Andrea Petkovic produced a stunning upset to defeat No.6 seed Petra Kvitova in the second the second round of the US Open, 6-4, 6-4 in 97 minutes.
A tight opening set was edged by the German player with a single break in its final game, while she showed her mental fortitude to overcome a deficit in the second.
The WTA World No.88 had won only eight main draw matches all season before arriving in New York but she was able to take advantage of Kvitova’s rustiness, with the Czech having battled with a left forearm injury for much of the summer.
Petkovic revealed that her previous wins over the Czech, and most notable a marathon success at the 2016 Australian Open, laid the groundwork for this win.
“I’ve beaten her before in Grand Slams and important matches. That gave me the belief and I think that’s the most important thing if you want to beat great players on big stages,” she said. “I respect and admire her so much, you are just 100% focused, you don’t let anything slip and that gives me the power to be in the moment and play my best tennis.
“I know what doesn’t suit her but when she plays well she has these weapons that don’t allow you to do your thing most of the time.”
Kvitova, meanwhile, admitted that she struggled to make use of her potentially potent artillery.
“I had my chances, of course, but I was always missing,” she lamented. “I was a break up in the second and I should have made it. Overall, I don’t think I played that bad really, but that’s how it is.”
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There was little to pick between the two players in an opening set that saw only three break points, with the last of these decisive in Petkovic’s favor.
She had played with a great deal of intelligence to that point, showing why she and Kvitova were tied five-all in their 10 career meetings before their Big Apple face off. The Czech’s usual efficiency on serve was troubled by Petkovic’s aggressive returning, with 79% of her returns finding the court in a set she was never once aced in.
Armed with the knowledge that in the pair’s extensive history, the winner of the first set has always gone on to win the match, she would have wished for a similar path in the second.
Victory, however, came about following a meandering set of tennis that initially seemed to be going the two-time Wimbledon champion’s way. Kvitova sealed an early break following a thrilling exchange at the next and produced a string of fine winners to build a 3-1 lead, though a succession of missed opportunities in a scrappy fifth game, during which Petkovic served three double faults, would come back to haunt her.
Having fought back from potentially falling 4-1 behind, a succession of lengthy games followed in which both players initially struggled to control their hitting.
Kvitova’s game, however, had gone terminally off the boil, allowing her opponent to draw level. She briefly threatened a renaissance but with the length of the games increasing and the nervous tension in both players building, it was Petkovic who ultimately prevailed.
Match point summed up the determination of the 31-year-old, scrambling around the baseline to retrieve everything her opponent could possibly throw at her and prevailing as Kvitova, advanced to the net, was unable to control an overhead volley.
“It was a crazy match point!” the victor enthused in the aftermath.
“It feels like a big win, but not because it’s against Petra but because of the last few weeks and how I’ve been able to work through a phase that was difficult for me,” she added. “I think a big problem when you get a little older, you get a little panicked by stuff because you don’t know how much time you’ve got. I’m pleased at how I handled that.”
Petkovic’s reward for just her third Top 10 win since 2016 will be a third-round clash with either No.25 seed Elise Mertens or Kristyna Pliskova.