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Petra Kvitova earns clash with Venus Williams

Petra Kvitova during her Second round match
by Michael Beattie
Wednesday 25 June 2014

Upsets? Drama? Not on No.1 Court, at least not for the two former champions in action on day three. After Andy Murray had rolled over Blaz Rola for the loss of just two games, Petra Kvitova matched the feat as she dispatched Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-0.

Kvitova, who overpowered fellow Czech Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 6-0 in the first round, once again defied her reputation for slipping into three-set tussles. Barthel had raced to a 7-5, 6-0 win against Romina Oprandi in her opening match and was expected to provide a little more resistance, having taken to Kvitova in three sets back in 2012. In the end, the result was nothing short of emphatic – the German lost 11 games in succession to bow out in just 54 minutes.

Kvitova, her right thigh still strapped to protect a hamstring strain, made a cautious but steady start against Barthel. The German’s brief was clear: keep the No.6 seed moving, but Kvitova brought up a break point in the first game while still finding her range. Barthel recovered to hold and might have capitalised on a 0-30 lead in the second game, but Kvitova found her way back with a couple of timely aces.

From that point onwards Kvitova assumed complete control. Moving with greater freedom, she was free to let rip from the baseline and bully Barthel into submission. The 23-year-old held once more but a cross-court backhand return blazed past to bring Kvitova a second break point in game five, sealed with a Barthel double-fault.

As the German crumbled, Kvitova grew in confidence. There were shades of her 2011 form as she struck 25 winners in all and showed the fine touch around the net. The opening set disappeared in 25 minutes, and after falling to a third break at the start of the second, Barthel disappeared beneath her dipped visor.

With the match all but over at 6-2, 5-0, the German rallied to finish on a high note. Having cruised through the match without facing a break point, Kvitova was suddenly 0-40 down. Undeterred, the world No.6 served her way out of trouble before Barthel came again, saving four match points and bringing up another two chances to break with some of her best tennis of the match.

The German could not avoid the whitewash, however. Kvitova afforded herself a smile as she reached match point for a fifth time with a sumptuous drop volley raising her arms in victory when Barthel netted her return.

“It's nice to just be done in two,” Kvitova admitted. “Of course, for my leg and for my body it's much better to play only two. [My leg] was fine from the beginning, so stayed like that. I hope it's going to be good in the next match as well.”

Five-time Ladies' Singles champion Venus Williams awaits in what promises to be a spellbinding third-round encounter on Friday. The Czech, who admitted that she had not watched coverage of the 34-year-old’s five Wimbledon titles, has won three of their four previous meetings. All four matches have been settled in three sets; their last two encounters, most recently in Doha earlier this year, both ended in final-set tie-breaks.

Asked about the prospect of facing Williams at a Grand Slam for the first time, Kvitova said: “It's always big fight. I think it's just about the smaller things and the key points in the match. It’s going to be very important to stay confident and play for every point, because I know that she can play really well. She plays flat shots like me on the grass, and of course she has a big serve.

“I'm looking forward for this match. I think it's going to be a great fight.”

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