Wimbledon champions Elena Rybakina and Petra Kvitova had their first career meeting in the Agel Open quarterfinals on Friday evening, and it was Rybakina of Kazakhstan who got the better of Czech hope Kvitova with a 7-6(5), 6-4 victory.
Rybakina, who triumphed in London for her first Grand Slam title this summer, took a hair over two hours to prevail over two-time Wimbledon titlist Kvitova in the big-hitting clash. It is Rybakina's career-best 36th main-draw victory of the 2022 season.
"It was a really tough match," Rybakina said after her win. "Petra, she played really well, so it was a battle for every point. But in the end, I’m very happy with my performance today."
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It was a commanding display by Rybakina, who fired 31 winners to only six unforced errors. Kvitova also played a clean and powerful match, with 26 winners to just 12 unforced errors, but unfortunately for the Czech and the home crowd, she was never able to break Rybakina's serve.
"I think I served really well today, and it helped me, especially in some tight moments," Rybakina said. "Overall, it was a solid match for me."
There were no breaks of serve at all in the opening set as the two power players inexorably moved into a first-set tiebreak. An amazing rally ending with a Kvitova volley winner gave her the early 3-2 lead in the breaker, but Rybakina fired a winner of her own to get back on serve at 4-3.
An untimely double fault by Kvitova gave Rybakina her first set point at 6-5, and Rybakina took home the one-set lead after a Kvitova backhand found the net.
Kvitova saved a total of six break points spanning her first two service games in the second set, but Rybakina at last broke the Kvitova serve on her 10th break point of the match for a 4-3 lead.
That was all Rybakina needed as she dropped only one point in her last two service games, finishing the match with her 11th ace of the day.
Rybakina will have to stare down another Czech Grand Slam champion in the semifinals, where she will meet Barbora Krejcikova. 2021 Roland Garros champion Krejcikova ended the breakthrough run of qualifier Alycia Parks earlier on Friday.
Krejcikova defeated Rybakina in their only previous meeting, which came at the Grampians Trophy in Melbourne in early 2021.
In the nightcap match, Ekaterina Alexandrova completed the semifinal lineup with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 victory over another Czech, wildcard Tereza Martincova. Alexandrova improved to 4-2 over Martincova with the 1-hour and 45-minute win.
Alexandrova slammed six aces and won 80 percent of her first-service points, helping her earn a career-best eighth match-win in a row on tour. Alexandrova won her third career WTA singles title at her most recent event in Seoul two weeks ago.
Currently sitting at a career-high ranking of World No.21, Alexandrova will have to beat World No.1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinals if she wants to keep her winning streak alive.
Alexandrova can take confidence from the fact that she defeated Swiatek in straight sets in their only previous meeting. That match came in the Round of 16 of the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne early last year.