MELBOURNE, Australia - No.8 seed Petra Kvitova is through to her first quarterfinal in Melbourne since 2012 after ending American youngster Amanda Anisimova’s dream run at the Australian Open.
The 17-year-old Anisimova’s shocker against Aryna Sabalenka, the No.11 seed, turned heads in the tennis world and backed up her big wins over Lesia Tsurenko and Monica Niculescu.
But she crashed down to earth against the two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who drew from her long experience to steamroll to victory in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour.
In a way, the match marks a full-circle for Kvitova: it was against the Czech player that Anisimova made her historic breakthrough last year at Indian Wells, becoming the youngest person in 13 years to defeat a Top 10 player when she snapped Kvitova’s 14-match winning streak.
“I think it was kind of different time when I played her in Indian Wells,” Kvitova said in her post-match press conference. “I was pretty tired from the winning streak. I played a lot of matches... I didn't feel physically and mentally did well as I did today.
“Actually I know [how] she's playing this time, as well. It was kind of different preparation or mindset, which I knew which she's going to play pretty aggressive from the beginning. That's what I needed to do first. I think I did well this time.”
The No.8 seed Kvitova wouldn’t let herself meet the same fate again on Sunday at the Australian Open, playing against Anisimova on Rod Laver Arena. She rained down 18 winners against the American, keeping Anisimova’s big game contained to just eight winners.
Anisimova’s own unforced errors didn’t help her cause, racking up 20 against Kvitova’s 15. But it was the Czech’s strong serving that made the difference - she fired just one ace but won 83% of points behind her powerful first serve, keeping Anisimova firmly out of the contest.
Kvitova came charging out of the gates, striking the ball with confidence and hitting powerful serves to earn a break in the first game and power to a 2-0 lead. Kvitova had the American under lots of pressure in all of her service games, creating break chances at 3-2 before breaking once more at 5-2 to extend her lead to a daunting double break.
Smart forays to the net successfully broke up Anisimova’s rhythm, and Kvitova would finish the match winning eight of 10 points played at the net. Anisimova showed flashes of world-beating brilliance in her deep groundstrokes, but was unable to consistently find her range against the experience and firepower of her opponent as she dropped the first set in just 33 minutes.
Kvitova continued to steamroll in the second set, with her tricky lefty serve setting up easy putaways. Anisimova showed her grit to stop Kvitova’s run of three games in a row with a strong hold, but it was the only joy she would find in the second set. The Czech reeled off the next six games in a row to put an end to the match after 59 minutes, booking her spot into the quarterfinals.
Up next for Kvitova, she sets up a rematch of the Sydney final against No.15 seed Ashleigh Barty. Barty downed former champion and No.30 seed Maria Sharapova in a three-set classic later in the day.
“It will be different, for sure,” Kvitova said. “It will be not the final, as we played in Sydney, which was great match, very exhausted.
“But she is a different kind of player when she's mixing it up a bit. She's playing different serve, as well. She has the kick. It's just different kind of player than I faced today, for example. But will be fun one.
“I mean, Australians, of course, will be on her side, but that was the same in Sydney. So I'm, you know, kind of used to it,” she added, smiling.