MIAMI, FL, USA - No.3 seed Petra Kvitova kept her Miami Open campaign - and her quest for the WTA World No.1 ranking - alive on Monday, needing two sets against Caroline Garcia to book her spot into the quarterfinals.
Kvitova put on a dominating performance at the Hard Rock Stadium’s center court, raining down 26 winners against Garcia and weathering a two-hour-long rain delay en route to a tidy 6-3, 6-3 victory.
“I think I played great match today from the beginning, which I'm very pleased with,” Kvitova told press afterward. “Of course with the rain delay it's always makes some troubles.
“I had a quick nap, and, you know, it's always kind of different and difficult coming back to the court. I felt pretty tight in those two games, and I'm very glad that I was able to finish it with good serves in the last game.”
The Frenchwoman came into the match on a high after recording wins over Victoria Azarenka and No.15 seed Julia Goerges - out-acing the big-serving German in the process. But that serve was nowhere to be seen against Kvitova, who stayed aggressive on the returns to take advantage of Garcia’s vulnerable deliveries.
A shaky first service game from Garcia - complete with a double fault, the first of four in the match - gave an early break to Kvitova, who backed it up to start the match with a 2-0 lead. Kvitova continued to keep the pressure on the Garcia serve, bringing another pair of break chances at 3-2 before finally breaking again late in the set, converting her second set point to clinch it with confidence.
Kvitova continued her momentum in the second set, breaking Garcia at 3-1 and keeping her nose in front against the Frenchwoman's attacking. Kvitova’s serve was firing and she recorded two love games off her server as Garcia tried to come up with answers for her opponent’s booming lefty delivery.
A rain delay at 5-2 halted Kvitova’s momentum, with Garcia poised to serve to try to stay in the match. About two hours later, upon resumption, she posted a strong hold to love but it wasn’t enough to spark a turnaround as Kvitova quickly served out the match in straight sets.
The win sends Kvitova through to the Miami Open quarterfinals, but it’s also a big step for the Czech’s search for the elusive World No.1 ranking. With Naomi Osaka out in the third round here, Kvitova can overtake her for the top spot by winning the title, depending on other results.
In order to make it happen, Kvitova will have to do something she’s never done before: advance past the Miami Open quarterfinals, which she’s reached just once previously in 2014.
And her next opponent won’t make it an easy task, either. Kvitova will take on Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, the No.12 seed, who came back from a set down against No.7 Kiki Bertens to advance, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
It’ll be the pair’s third meeting this year, with Kvitova needing a close, three-set battle to down Barty in the final of Sydney and later easing past her in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Kvitova owns a 4-0 lead in the pair’s career head-to-head record.
“We played two times already in kind of different conditions but in Australia, which I think she really likes,” Kvitova said. “It's always pretty difficult and it's very tricky match. She can mix it up a lot. That's why I need to be ready.
“It will be totally different compared to today's match, for sure.”