Playing just her second match since claiming the Wimbledon title back in early July, Petra Kvitova found the spotlight stolen from her by another young player celebrating a career high. In her first week as a Top 10 player, Andrea Petkovic routed Kvitova, 6-1, 6-2, to claim a place in the Rogers Cup quarterfinals.
Throughout her young career, Kvitova has been dogged by a tendency to start her matches slowly before recovering, but that was not the case today. Having beaten Anabel Medina Garrigues in the previous round, Kvitova played the best tennis she would produce all match in its first three games, pushing Petkovic hard on her serve and holding her own with ease. It was all downhill from there. After saving four break points, Kvitova went wildly wide and long off her forehand side to give Petkovic an early advantage; it would be the first of many egregious unforced errors off that side that would essentially cost her the match. Kvitova’s aggressive game contains little margin for error at the best of times, making streaks like the one she got on at Wimbledon all the more impressive, but she can also be her own worst enemy. That was the case today as she simply hemorrhaged errors to drop a lopsided first set.
Before today, Kvitova led the head-to-head between the two players, 3-2, and had won all of their previous meetings on hard courts. Petkovic, however, showed every sign of having learned important lessons from her history with Kvitova. Her tactics were simple, returning deep to Kvitova’s forehand and attacking it consistently throughout the rallies, but the fact that Kvitova only held serve three times despite serving at 74 percent speaks volumes about Petkovic’s excellent timing with her returns. Time and again, Kvitova found the ball back at her feet before she had readjusted after her serve, which drew vital errors. With the Czech coming off a long competitive break and consistently off-balance, Petkovic’s match fitness showed to excellent advantage; without trying to go for too many winners herself, the German's defense was airtight and her anticipation brilliant. Petkovic certainly appears to be one of the fittest players on the women’s tour, helping her hit deep from unlikely positions, and it gained her the crucial advantage in the second set when she anticipated a Kvitova cross-court shot and got it back at the Czech’s feet, going up a set and 3-1.
Kvitova’s usual imperturbable demeanor began to show definite signs of frustration from that point on, but despite hitting the occasional breathtaking winner—including two consecutive with returns to get her to 30-30, as Petkovic was serving for the match—she could find no rhythm and her forehand continued to generously dispense errors. Petkovic’s smart, solid performance earns her a quarterfinal spot against either Vera Zvonareva or Agnieszka Radwanska, and underlines her Top 10 credentials. Kvitova will have to wait a bit longer to back up her Wimbledon achievements.