Kvitova ends Kerber's reign in Sydney

By Sports Desk January 10, 2019

Petra Kvitova ended Angelique Kerber's reign as Sydney International champion with a straight-sets quarter-final victory, while Alize Cornet is the only seed in the last four of the Hobart International. 

Kvitova and Kerber had claimed six wins apiece in their previous 12 meetings and it was the fifth seed who edged in front in the head-to-head with a 6-4 6-1 win on Thursday following frustrating rain delays.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova claimed five titles to return to the top 10 in the rankings last year and looks in good shape to make her presence felt at the Australian Open after toppling Kerber in impressive fashion.

Kerber claimed the first break after two early stoppages due to the weather, but Kvitova rallied to win four games in a row and take the opening set.

The Czech will take on qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the last four after breaking her fellow left-hander twice in the second set to seal a late-night victory at around 11.30pm local time.

Sasnovich also advanced in straight sets, seeing off Timea Bacsinszky 6-3 6-3.

Home hope Ashleigh Barty followed up her win over world number one Simona Halep by taking out 10th seed Elise Mertens 6-3 6-3 and will play seventh seed Kiki Bertens, who lost only four games in a defeat of Yulia Putintseva.

Sofia Kenin spoiled Kirsten Flipkens' 33rd birthday in Hobart, beating the seventh seed 7-5 7-5.

Kenin, who upset top seed Caroline Garcia in the first round, will come up against Cornet in the last four after the sixth seed saw off Greet Minnen 6-1 6-4.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Belinda Bencic will contest the other semi-final following straight-sets victories over Irina-Camelia Begu and Dayana Yastremska respectively.

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    Former US Open winner Sloane Stephens saw her challenge come to a halt in the fourth round too as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova prevailed in another match to go the distance, and Petra Kvitova demolished 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova.

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    Since a run to the semi-finals in 2013, Stephens has failed to reach the second week in Melbourne but she looked on course to earn a quarter-final berth when she took the opening set against Pavlyuchenkova.

    And Stephens carried that momentum into the second, breaking immediately and going 2-0 ahead before her opponent roared back and reeled off six of the next seven games to force a decider.

    The final set, which began with a Stephens hold after 17 minutes, proved a topsy-turvy affair, featuring six breaks of serve, but Pavlyuchenkova had her nose in front early and the Russian advanced 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-3 to set up a last-eight meeting with Collins.



    Collins had never won a grand slam match before this week, but the 25-year-old was utterly dominant in a 6-0 6-2 annihilation of Kerber, who conceded that she was well below her best.

    "I think there is not too much to say. I mean, it was completely not my day," Kerber said. "I was not playing the tennis that I can play. She played really well. I think she played one of her best matches, to be honest. She hit every ball in the court. She moves good.

    "For me...not my day, not my good tennis, but credit to her, she played a good match. I was just trying, I couldn't find my rhythm. The whole match I was trying everything. I was trying to find it. I was trying to fight even in the second set and tried my best."



    Still seven months shy of her 18th birthday, Anisimova produced a sensational run to the fourth round but the teenager came up against too strong an opponent in two-time major champion Kvitova, who eased through 6-2 6-1.

    Anisimova took to social media after the match, admitting she was beaten by the better woman, saying: "I got a tennis lesson today, but at least it was from one of the best in the world hey...really though I had such an enjoyable week here, thank you so much for being such an amazing crowd. I am so looking forward to next year Melbs".

    And Belinda Bencic, defeated 6-1 6-4 by Kvitova in the previous round, felt a degree of sympathy with the young American, replying on Instagram: "Welcome to the club #petrasvictims".



    Next up for Kvitova is home favourite Barty, who delighted the partisan crowd by coming from behind to oust Sharapova and the Australian is hoping for revenge after losing out to the world number six in the final of the Sydney International earlier this month.

    "[I need to] win a couple more important points, I suppose, compared to Sydney," Barty said. "It's exciting that I get to have another chance at Petra straight away.

    "Not often does that happen where you get to kind of have a replay against the same opponent. Really exciting, but, yeah, really pumped to have another chance here."

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