SYDNEY, Australia – WTA World No.5 Petra Kvitova broke through the determined defence of Angelique Kerber to progress through to the semifinals of the Sydney International, beating the reigning champion 6-4, 6-1.

The encounter – the 13th between the pair – proved to be a late-night affair, finishing around 11:30pm local time after being interrupted on multiple occasions due to inclement weather.

After initially struggling to get going after the second rain break, Kvitova, who now leads the head-to-head between the pair 7-6, powered through to claim the opener and then maintained the momentum to take the second with a blistering array of winners.

“It was the worth the wait to get back on court,” she said. “The weather’s not been great this week and it’s not easy to wait for the matches when they’re interrupted. I’m glad I was able to get back on court and play well.”

Two stoppages due to the conditions meant that there was a rather staccato feel to the early stages of the match, which better suited the German player. Indeed, Kerber exploded out of the blocks after the second delay to break serve and even had two points to claim a double break.

Galvanised by the strong serving that allowed her to escape that situation, Kvitova, who played cards and had a sandwich during the interval, soon found her groove, with her powerful, deep groundstrokes making inroads into the defence of her opponent. 

Such was her accuracy, she rattled off four games in quick succession, hitting 16 winners in the process and boasting good numbers of serve. 

There was little relent from the Czech at the beginning of the second set, although Kerber did at least manage to stem the flow of games against her by holding serve in the first game.

The German also did well to resist three break points her opponent created in the fourth game, with the No.5 seed putting away any short balls imperiously. On her fourth opportunity, she sent a backhand sizzling off the inside tramline, leaving Kerber helpless.

With Kvitova’s serve in full flow, there was little Kerber could do to prevent the match, and the title she was defending, slipping away from her. 

The German remained dogged, saving three break points from 0-40 down in her following service game, but a double fault brought up a fourth, which was put away.

And Kvitova, serving with new balls, looked untroubled as she won the final game to 15.

Qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich is up next for Kvitova, who is just two steps away from reclaiming the title she won in 2015.

However, she refuses to think that far ahead. 

“I’ve got a tough opponent tomorrow,” she said. “I lost to her at Wimbledon so I’m not thinking further than that. I’m going step by step.”