MELBOURNE, Australia - No.7 seed Petra Kvitova surged into the second week of the 2020 Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-2 win over No.25 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Runner-up in Melbourne last year - where she narrowly lost to Naomi Osaka - Kvitova is yet to drop a set at the Happy Slam through three matches, needing just 58 minutes to dispatch the big-hitting Russian on Margaret Court Arena.
The two-time Wimbledon champion began the decade with a semifinal run at the Brisbane International, and put down to solid wins over countrywoman Katerina Siniakova and rising Spanish star Paula Badosa to book a third round clash - and first-ever meeting - with Alexandrova.
At 25 years old, Alexandrova is playing some of the best tennis of her career, starting the 2020 season with a maiden WTA title at the Shenzhen Open, where she upset the likes of Wang Qiang and former World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza en route.
Against Kvitova's similar firepower, however, Alexandrova struggled to find her rhythm and after a long opening game, the Czech star raced ahead 5-0 to kick off the match. Briefly interrupted by a service hold that got the Russian on the board, Kvitova continued pressing to serve out the opening set.
"I think the key was the first two games, where I held serve after, I don't know, seven, eight minutes. Then I broke her. It was the nice beginning of me, for sure.
"From then, I felt good and I played pretty aggressively. I knew that I have to play like this, going through the first shot. She likes to play the same game as me. I was just trying to be the first who put the pressure on her."
The second set saw the two trade service holds until Kvitova once again took control, breaking in the fifth game and securing an insurance break two games later, outhitting Alexandrova to find herself serving for the match.
Kvitova continued her march towards the finish line, confidently earning the win behind a big serve that booked her spot in the fourth round for a second straight year.
It was a clean match from Kvitova, who struck 18 winners to just 10 unforced errors; Alexandrova's 24 unforced errors outweighed her 12 winners, and the Russian couldn't engineer another break point after earning one in Kvitova's first service game.
Awaiting Kvitova in the Round of 16 will be the winner of an intriguing third round match-up between 2015 semifinalist Madison Keys - in what would be a rematch of their Brisbane semifinal from two weeks ago - and No.22 seed Maria Sakkari.
"Well, I played both of them. Last matchups I lost against them. Doesn't matter who I play, just kind of try to have a good revenge anyway. It will be Grand Slam, so it will be little bit different.
"But anyway, I'm happy to be in the second week after reaching the final last year. For me, it's really good thing to be in the second week, for sure. Now every match is very tough. It doesn't really matter who I'm facing. I would just try to enjoy it and let's see."