MELBOURNE, Australia - No.8 seed Petra Kvitova put on a dominant display to defeat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and nine minutes to extend her winning streak to seven and move into the third round of the Australian Open.
The Sydney champion slammed 26 winners and dropped serve only once en route to her fourth win in as many meetings with Begu. The result means that Kvitova, who currently holds a Tour-leading six titles, progresses to the last 32 in Melbourne for the fourth time in her career, and first since 2015.
Kvitova would begin sharply, using her power to rush and rattle her opponent. A forceful forehand return prevented Begu from closing out her first service game at 40-15, and the shaken Romanian coughed up two double faults to concede the first break instead.
The Czech's shotmaking went from strength to sublime strength. In the third game, she chased down a Begu dropshot and flicked a perfect backhand winner into the corner; en route to breaking for 4-0, she conjured up a ridiculous right-handed forehand lob winner despite being wrong-footed.
Begu was able to come up with a handful of highlights in the first set, showing off her scrambling abilities and net play on occasion, but the four-time WTA titlist had no sustained answer to Kvitova. The former World No.2 opened the door a fraction by dropping her serve to love in the fifth game, but this proved a mere blip en route to a 27-minute opening set.
The second set brought déjà vu for Begu: once again, her serve would prove to be her undoing, with her fourth double fault handing a break point to Kvitova in the third game. Moving into net with intent, Kvitova took it promptly.
Conversely, it was the two-time Wimbledon champion's serve that staved off any possibility of getting dragged into a dogfight. A six-deuce, ten-minute tussle ensued on Kvitova's serve as the World No.170 tried desperately to claw her way back into the match, again showing off her reflexes at net. But on each of three break points, Kvitova pulled an unreturnable first serve out of her pocket - and eventually closed the game out with one of her three aces of the day.
Though Begu, who had not held serve in the first set, had now settled somewhat on her own delivery to keep the second closer, Kvitova struck again in the final game, upping the ante on return. An ill-advised drive volley over the baseline brought up a first match point, and Kvitova seized it with a fizzing inside-out forehand winner.
Next up for Kvitova in her bid to reach the second week in Melbourne for the first time since her 2012 semifinal run will be former World No.7 Belinda Bencic, after the Swiss player came through a dramatic 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 encounter over Yulia Putintseva.