Kvitova rallies into Wimbledon fourth round
LONDON (AP)—Petra Kvitova avoided becoming the latest former champion to be knocked out in the first week at Wimbledon, rallying from a break down in the final set Saturday to beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 and reach the fourth round.
The match had been halted Friday with Makarova up 2-1 in the third set, but the eighth-seeded Kvitova broke right back when play resumed and won the next two games as well. After losing her own serve, the Czech player broke again for a 5-3 lead and then converted her third match point with a forehand winner.
''It was another day for me,'' Kvitova said. ''I played really well. I should go for every point and play my game. So I played quite aggressively. That was the key.''
Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011 but has struggled to match that performance since and has slipped from second to eighth in the rankings. She has a good chance of reaching her second final at the All England Club, however, having seen second-seeded Victoria Azarenka and former champion Maria Sharapova already eliminated on her side of the draw.
To have a chance at another title, though, Kvitova said her consistency has to improve.
''In 2011 I played really well. I mean, I play my best, for sure. Every shot was going to the court,'' she said. ''It's not the same this year. ... I drop off little bit. It's always little bit up and down, but I hope it will be more up than down.''
There was another upset on Centre Court, however, as ninth-seeded Richard Gasquet lost to Bernard Tomic, the talented Australian whose father has been barred from tournaments because of an assault case.
Tomic, who in 2011 as an 18-year-old qualifier became the youngest Wimbledon quarterfinalist since Boris Becker in 1985, won 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5).
Former runner-up Tomas Berdych also advanced, beating Kevin Anderson of South Africa 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.
Later Saturday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams were set to play their third-round matches, also looking to avoid further upsets after seven-time champion Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were both eliminated early.
Because of rain over the last two days, Wimbledon organizers were playing a bit of catch-up with the schedule on Saturday before Sunday's rest day.
Among several other matches that had been postponed, No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia beat Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 to set up a fourth-round meeting with second-seeded Andy Murray, who won in straight sets on Friday.
Two other seeded players went out against unseeded opposition, as No. 22 Juan Monaco of Argentina fell 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-4 to Frenchman Kenny De Schepper, while No. 26 Benoit Paire of France lost 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 to Lukasz Kubot of Poland.
Sloane Stephens of the U.S. reached the fourth round for the first time, coming back to close out an uneven 7-6 (3), 0-6, 6-4 victory over 196th-ranked qualifier Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic.
Resuming at the start of the third set, the 17th-seeded Stephens fell behind 2-0, but Cetkovska double-faulted three times while letting the American take a 4-3 edge. Stephens made a name for herself at the Australian Open in January, when she defeated Serena Williams en route to the semifinals.
No. 23 Andreas Seppi of Italy kept up his perfect record in five-set matches in 2013, winning his seventh straight by defeating 12th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-4. Seppi also beat Denis Istomin in five sets in the first round, and won two five-setters each at this year's Australian Open and French Open. He also rallied from two sets down in a Davis Cup match this year.
Eleventh-seeded Roberta Vinci made it an even better day for Italy, cruising past No. 18 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-4.
As is traditional on the middle Saturday of the tournament, the Royal Box on Centre Court was filled with a number of invited sports stars, this year mainly British gold-medal winners from the London Olympics. Among those getting the biggest ovation from the crowd were cyclists Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton - as well as Murray, who donned a suit and tie to make a brief appearance in the box to celebrate his singles gold medal won on Centre Court.
Laura Robson then made it another good day for the home crowd when she became the first British woman since Sam Smith in 1998 to reach the fourth round.
Helped by a crucial overturned call, Robson rallied from a set and a break down to beat Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Erakovic served for the match in the second set, only for Robson to break back. Having then earned a set point at 6-5, Robson barely got a return back that looped high and just caught the edge of the line, but was called out before Erakovic could smack a winner. Robson successfully challenged the call and the point was replayed, with Erakovic double-faulting to hand her opponent the set.
Robson then jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third set, and clinched the victory with a forehand winner.
''I was getting my butt kicked basically (in the first set),'' Robson said. ''I was really struggling (with) her serve. She was playing really well. So I just thought, just going to try as best as I can, work as hard as possible and just stick with it until she starts to get nervous, which is what happened.''