Two Top 10 players made very short work of their second-round matches at Wimbledon on Friday.
No.6 seed Ons Jabeur, last year's Wimbledon runner-up, sped past qualifier Bai Zhuoxuan 6-1, 6-1 on No.1 Court. In their first meeting, Jabeur took just 45 minutes to collect the win.
And No.9 seed Petra Kvitova, Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, made her way into the third round of the event for the ninth time with a 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Aliaksandra Sasnovich in 74 minutes.
If Jabeur and Kvitova both win their third-round matches on Saturday, they would face off in a star-studded Round of 16 clash.
Jabeur zips through: In the final second-round match of the day, Jabeur was dominant against 191st-ranked Bai, who was playing in her first Grand Slam main draw. Jabeur won 87 percent of her first-serve points, and hit 15 winners (including six aces) to Bai's three.
"I think it was a good match for me," Jabeur said in her post-match press conference. "I tried to stick to the plan, just be able to be ready for tomorrow."
Jabeur was in a spot of trouble early on serve at 2-0 in the first set, but her delivery started firing on all cylinders at that point, and she erased two break points in that game. Jabeur never faced another break point all day.
Making her 25th Grand Slam appearance, Jabeur is into the third round of Wimbledon for the third straight year. In addition to last year's final, she also reached the quarterfinals in 2021.
Jabeur will next take on 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in a marquee third-round match on Centre Court on Saturday. Jabeur won their only prior meeting, at Montreal in 2021.
"[Andreescu] can be aggressive, she can change up the rhythm," Jabeur said, looking ahead to the clash. "I'm just going to try to take time from her. We can have a similar game because I know she likes to do some dropshots, she likes to slice a bit. We actually have practiced together, so it's a good thing for me, I guess."
Kvitova on a roll: Earlier on Friday, two-time champion Kvitova exacted a measure of revenge with the result against Sasnovich.
Five years ago, Kvitova had come into Wimbledon 2018 with a grass-court title in Birmingham under her belt. But as one of the favorites to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish that year, the Czech crashed out to Sasnovich 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 in the first round.
This year, Kvitova has again started at SW19 in red-hot form. Two weeks ago in Berlin, she won her 31st career title. The former No.2 is now on a 12-match winning streak off clay, having also won her first Miami title in March. Her previous loss to Sasnovich had been their first encounter. Kvitova has now won all three meetings since.
The match was one of 10 remaining second-round matches to be completed on Day 5 of The Championships. Kvitova will next face qualifier Natalija Stevanovic, who overcame lucky loser Tamara Korpatsch 7-5, 7-5 in 2 hours and 43 minutes -- the longest straight-sets match of 2023.
Coincidentally, No.225-ranked Stevanovic had drawn Korpatsch's chip from the lucky loser pool to grant the German entry into the main draw. She needed five set points to close out the first set, then had to hold firm as Korpatsch cut her 5-2 second-set lead to 5-5. However, the 28-year-old Serb's movement and accuracy with her signature slice enabled her to advance to the third round on her Grand Slam main-draw debut.
How the match was won: Kvitova delivered 25 winners, including five aces, against 17 unforced errors to maintain scoreboard control for the most part. Winning 83% of her first serves, she only dropped serve twice -- once when she was already up a break in the first set and the second time in the first game of the second set. Both times, she shook the lapse off to immediately break Sasnovich back.
Kvitova drew gasps with several of her redirected baseline winners and also showed off her touch in the forecourt, winning eight of nine net points.
Sasnovich had her moments in terms of superb redirections of pace as well but was unable to mix play up with her drop shot, a stroke that has often served the World No.69 well. Instead, she opted to go toe-to-toe with Kvitova's power, and consequently her 11 winners were outweighed by 20 unforced errors.
Kvitova on exorcising memories of her previous loss to Sasnovich: "Of course I was aware of it. But every match with her I had in my mind. I beat her in Sydney, was a big fight in Indian Wells I think last year.
"Probably knew what I should expect from her game, of course. Not nice memories of the Centre Court against her. But I turned it around today, so I'm happy that I won basically."