Kvitova narrowly leads their head-to-head, 7-6, thanks to winning their most recent meeting in the quarterfinals of Sydney—more than two years ago. It’s a rivalry that has gone back and forth since the two first clashed in 2012: both have posted three-match win streaks at one stage in the series, and Kvitova holds a slight 4-3 edge in deciding sets.
"It's quite long time when we played each other. She's a lefty so that will be big challenge," Kvitova said Thursday. "I think she is still working very hard. That's what I know. Even [if] she doesn't have [as] many matches as she wanted, I think she's still there competing, fighting. That's how we both will be."
While the pair of left-handers have met on red dirt a handful of times before, this marks just their second WTA encounter on outdoor clay—and first in nearly nine seasons (2012 Rome). Their four other showdowns on the surface have come indoors at Stuttgart, where Kerber prevailed in 2016 and 2018. In addition to taking their initial Porsche Tennis Grand Prix encounter, Kvitova also claimed a Billie Jean King Cup (formerly Fed Cup) decision in the 2018 World Group semifinals at the Porsche-Arena.
In her Madrid opener, Kerber notched a solid 7-6 (5), 6-1 victory over 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova to get an extra rep in against a fellow southpaw—though Vondrousova’s style is a stark contrast to her countrywoman Kvitova. Traditionally, Kerber hasn’t fared well at this WTA 1000 event, as Thursday’s win saw her improve to a modest 9-6.
On the other hand, Kvitova has soared at altitude. When Marie Bouzkova retired in the second set of an all-Czech first-rounder, Kvitova picked up her 30th career win at the Caja Mágica, With three titles to her name (2011, 2015 and 2018), it’s by far her most successful clay-court event.
Kerber is aiming to win back-to-back matches for just the second time this season. With that in mind, and her opponent’s far superior history in this city, the edge lies with the No. 9 seed.
The Pick: Petra Kvitova