WUHAN, China -- No.5 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, twice a winner of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, started her quest for a third title in five years with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia in the second round on Tuesday.
Kvitova was the inaugural champion in Wuhan in 2014 and doubled up with another trophy in 2016. The Czech, though, had lost her only previous meeting with Krunic, as the Serb claimed a stunning upset in the third round of the US Open in 2014. However, Kvitova avenged that loss with the Wuhan win in one hour and 20 minutes.
"Definitely, I'm very satisfied how I played today," Kvitova told the press, after the match. "I lost to her the last time we played. She is playing a little bit unusual than the other players. I knew it will be difficult. But my serve helped me a lot today. I was very pleased with that. I think I really kept everything what I had to, played aggressive, but not too much risk."
"When you are coming somewhere where you know you played well before, it's always easier for the mind," Kvitova continued. The Czech star improved her lifetime Wuhan record to 13-2 after the victory over Krunic.
The high-octane game that brought Kvitova two Grand Slam titles and a career-high World No.2 ranking was in full effect, as the Czech grabbed hold of the match by slamming 34 winners, including 13 aces, which were countered by 32 unforced errors. Krunic had six winners to 10 unforced errors during the clash.
In the third round, Kvitova will take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who eliminated No.12 seed and last week's Seoul titlist Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, 6-4, 6-2, earlier on Thursday.
Kvitova got off to a brilliant start, breaking Krunic for 2-0 and firing forehand winners for fun to hold for 3-0. Krunic held for 3-1 and had a chance to claim the break back in the following game after a double fault by the Czech queued up break point, but Kvitova found her way out of trouble, blasting an ace for 4-1.
Kvitova continued to play exceptional tennis, claiming a second break for a 5-1 lead after crushing a forehand crosscourt winner, which was set up by a scintillating forehand crosscourt return. Serving for the set, though, Kvitova played her worst game to date, as Krunic broke at love, wrapping up that game with a lovely backhand dropshot winner.
Krunic held for 5-3, putting the pressure squarely back on Kvitova, but this time, the two-time Wimbledon champion was up to the task. The Czech slammed a forehand winner to bring up triple set point, and closed out the opening set with an ace. Kvitova had 14 winners to Krunic’s five in the opening frame.
In the second set, both players held serve comfortably through 3-3. But in that game, Krunic found herself in danger on serve as Kvitova used deep backhands and powerful returns to reach double break point. The Czech then started misfiring on return to send the game back to deuce, but she clinched a third break point, and converted it with a forehand winner.
Now up a break, Kvitova rolled through the next game, holding serve at love and putting her one game away from victory. Serving for the match at 5-4, the Czech saw her first two match points come and go after forehand miscues, but one huge serve brought up a third match point, and another huge serve converted it, sealing another third-round showing in Wuhan for the World No.5.
"I do think the level of the players is pretty close," Kvitova said, when asked about the current depth on the WTA. "It really doesn't matter what kind of rank it is. In those matches, I think it's about one, two points sometimes when you have a breakpoint or you save the breakpoint or whatever. That's making differences in the end."
"I think that everyone is just getting fitter," Kvitova added. "They can play forever. It's just the small differences which you win or lose."