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Petra Kvitova holds steady with win over Zahlavova Strycova

by Helen Gilbert
Tuesday 1 July 2014

Following the shock exits of Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal earlier in the day it was up to former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to resume normality on Centre Court on ‘Tumultous Tuesday’.
And the 2011 Wimbledon champion did just that with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over fellow country woman Barbora Zahlavova Strycova to take her place in the semi final for the third time in her career.

Aside from her from her third round three-set tussle with fellow former champion Venus Williams, the No.6 seed has completed her matches in super speed fashion; she rattled through her first round meeting with Andrea Hlavackova in one hour and 15 minutes, saw off Mona Barthel in 55 minutes, and took just over an hour to breeze past Shuai Peng.

Under darkening skies it looked as though the 24-year-old might triumph in much the same vein this evening when she polished off the first set in 36 minutes but a fight back from the underdog put paid to that with the second set lasting just short of an hour. Even so Kvitova prevailed, venturing past the last eight stage, that eluded her last year.

“These feelings are always very emotional for me,” Kvitova said. “Of course, to be in a semi-final of Wimbledon is always great of course for me. Especially when I won it here, I have great memories. Definitely I'm happy that I'm there again.”

Kvitova meant business from the moment she stepped on court. Although sporting a heavily strapped right thigh, her movement was never hindered and the 6ft left hander, who has 11 career titles to her name, set about drilling balls all over the lawn, pinning Zahlavova Strycova to the back of the court.

The penetrating weight of shot more often than not toppled her 5ft 4in opponent off balance forcing her to float balls out of the court. Indeed such an error would cost the 28-year-old her opening service game and although she managed to hold the next one, nerves became apparent when she threw in two double faults. That game would be the only one she’d earn in the opening set.

Of course the jitters were to be expected. This was the first time Zahlavova Strycova had reached the quarter final of a Grand Slam. On her way here she had ousted No.2 seed Li Na and No.16 seed Caroline Wozniacki.
She’d also set a record; her appearance in the last eight along with Lucie Safarova and her opponent Petra Kvitova, meant she had became one of three Czech ladies to reach the quarter final of a Grand Slam for the first time in the Open Era.

Even so, she had also won through to the finals of Birmingham a few weeks ago and had been riding high on a wave of confidence. This finally began to shine though in the second set when spectators began trickling back into the stands that had emptied somewhat following Nadal’s departure.

As a number of fans even attempted to spark a Mexican wave, Zahlavova Strycova appeared to relax. She grew accustomed to Kvitova’s depth of shot, breaking her midway through the set.

She was broken straight back with the pattern repeated once more over the next two games but the former world No.2 eventually upped a gear in the 12th game on her opponent’s serve.

Kvitova was not about to let this slip and produced a succession of devastating groundstroke winners to set up three match points on her opponent’s serve. She only needed the one, closing out the match with a sizzling forehand down the line.

It is clear that Kvitova is having a jolly old time at these Championships. On the middle Sunday the joyous Czech posted a Facebook picture of herself sitting on the steps of a deserted Henman Hill with the caption "Maybe we can call it Petra’s perch.” Although she may have been joking, the re-name certainly possesses a distinctive ring. Three years ago Kvitova lifted the Venus Rosewater dish. Now just two matches stand between her and the chance to repeat that fairtytale ending.

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