MELBOURNE, Australia – Petra Kvitova, the No.8 seed, moved through to the second round of the Australian Open thanks to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Magdalena Rybarikova.
The champion of Sydney from last week won the opening two games of a match switched to the 1573 Arena but struggled to find her rhythm against her 30-year-old opponent, who did her best to hang onto the powerful Czech.
In a whirlwind second, the WTA World No.6 found her best level and amid an avalanche of winners moved through in only 67 minutes.
She admitted that nerves played a part in her uncharacteristic opening, hinting that 2018's marathon three-set first-round loss to Andrea Petkovic was in the back of her mind.
“I was nervous. I think I showed it during the first set,” she admitted. “In the second I played a bit better but I’m happy to be through. It’s already a better result than last year!”
There was not, however, a hangover from her victory is Sydney, despite the difficult conditions there.
“During the final was pretty hot and humid, which wasn’t great. I was cramping at the end of it,” she said. “At the end of the day, coming here was very smooth.”
Initially, her usually reliable serve was misfiring. Indeed, she served as many double faults as she did aces and made just 45% of her first deliveries.
With her groundstokes unpredictable, it made for an awkward and error-riddled first that saw the WTA World No.8 largely on top though coming through only thanks to a single break of serve.
The Kvitova who stormed brilliantly to victory at the Sydney International by beating Ashleigh Barty on Saturday was far more evident in the second, despite losing the opening game to love.
Her first serve regained its accuracy and, consequently, her opponent was not given a single serious look of getting back into the match once she had been broken at 1-1. Indeed, Kvitova had two chances to move a double break clear in the fifth game only for Rybarikova to win four points in succession.
But the form of the 28-year-old was now irresistible as she found winners from all over the court with unerring accuracy. A double break was soon added and she confidently stormed through when serving for the match, finishing the second set with an incredible 19 winners to just six unforced errors.
Irina-Camelia Begu is up next for Kvitova and she does not expect any curveballs from the Romanian.
“I’ve played her a few times, last time in St Petersburg,” she said. “It went to three sets.
“She’s very solid, doesn’t give anything for three. I think I’ll to play at a little bit better probably. I don’t think she can surprise me – and the other way around, too.”