It’s been a mixed year for Petra Kvitova. She’s the only WTA player to have made it to the quarterfinals or better in all three Grand Slam tournaments, which is more than respectable, but she hadn’t beaten a Top 10 player in five attempts this year. Until today, that is, when she demolished Marion Bartoli 6-1, 6-1 in 61 minutes to move into the quarterfinals at the Rogers Cup.
American – or Canadian – hard courts have traditionally been Kvitova’s worst surface: An asthmatic, she has struggled with the conditions and posted some fairly dismal results in the past few years during the spring and summer hard-court swings. That won’t always be the case, however, as she demonstrated today with a devastating display of her crushing power tennis in heavy and humid conditions.
Bartoli, currently ranked No. 10, had won both previous meetings with Kvitova, but was in trouble right from the start as Kvitova was quick to step inside the court and crunch a shorter ball for a winner, as well as playing two drop shots, the second for a winner which earned her an immediate break for 1-0. Racing to a 3-0 lead after a booming cross-court forehand, then a running forehand down the line pass, Kvitova was serving well and hitting with such relentless pace and accuracy that she dictated almost every point, able to stand and hit in the center of the court while Bartoli chased balls frantically from side to side. Bartoli’s defense is much better than it is often credited to be, but by the time she double-faulted the 6-1 first set away, she had failed to hit a single winner and such a situation is profoundly uncomfortable for the aggressive Frenchwoman.
Much of the credit for that must go to Kvitova’s returning, which was sublime today and gave Bartoli no time whatsoever to do much of anything but desperately fend the ball away from her shoelaces, winning only 50 percent of points behind her first serve and 29 percent behind her second. Whenever Bartoli did get an opportunity to get into Kvitova’s service games – the Czech was down 0-40 in the first game of the second set, then 0-30 on her next service game – Kvitova produced short but devastating runs of consecutive unplayable serves to hold. Five double faults didn’t help Bartoli’s case, especially when she served two in one game – the second on break point – to surrender her serve early in the second set.
Bartoli, who missed the Olympics but played Stanford and Carlsbad, should have looked dialled in on this surface; instead she appeared slightly jaded and fatigued, but the final count of 3 winners for Bartoli to 25 for Kvitova is eloquent where the pattern of play is concerned. When Kvitova is hitting winners from everywhere, and making only 11 unforced errors, it takes either something truly special from her opponent or one of those implosions for which she is justly known to stop her. Neither was forthcoming today.