10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Kvitova Survives, Azarenka Loses @ Roland Garros French Open Tennis 2018 By Richard Pagliario

Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic in action against Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay during their women’s first round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 28 May 2018. EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG



Roland Garros represented an emotional return for Petra Kvitova last year.


Kvitova showed the power of perseverance in Paris again today.


Staring down a 4-5 deficit in the decider, Kvitova won the final three games in a dramatic 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 triumph over Veronica Cepede Royg in her French Open opener.


Empowered by successive title runs in Prague and Madrid, Kvitova extended her winning streak to 12 matches.


“One game away to lose, is not really great to hear,” Kvitova told Tennis Channel’s Jon Wertheim immediately afterward. “I won the last three games, which is most important thing. I was a little lucky in the end. It was a very tough match for the first round so I’m very satisfied.”


The eighth-seeded Kvitova raised her record to a WTA-best 31-6 on the season. Kvitova is one of nine Czechs in the Roland Garros women’s singles draw. She wasn’t her nation’s only big winner on the day.


Before Kvitova wrapped up her two hour, seven-minute win on Philippe Chatrier Court, Czech compatriot Katerina Siniakova defeated former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 7-5, on Court 18.


The 54th-ranked Siniakova converted five of eight break points earning her first main-draw victory in Paris.


It was Azarenka’s third straight clay-court loss after she took out Madison Keys, Anastasija Sevastova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova to reach the Miami Open semifinals.


The flat-hitting Kvitova is at her best on faster surfaces, but she’s produced assertive tennis on Roland Garros’ red clay in the past. Kvitova reached the 2012 French Open semifinals falling to Maria Sharapova a year after she bowed to eventual-champion Li Na in the round of 16.


Confronting quick counter-puncher Cepede Royg, whose round of 16 run in Paris last year was her best Slam performance, Kvitova saved three of four break points in a match that featured just four service breaks.


The 89th-ranked Paraguayan broke in the eighth game then served it out dropping just three points on her first serve in the opener.


Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic in action against Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay during their women’s first round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 28 May 2018. EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

Striking with more authority and curling her crosscourt forehand into the corner, Kvitova cruised through the second set converting both breaks.


Kvitova’s ability to step into the court and drive deep shots helped her carve out the crucial break in the final set.


Cracking her two-hander crosscourt to earn double break point, the normally subdued Kvitova raised a clenched fist as her coach, Jiri Vanek, leaped from his seat urging his charge to finish.


When Cepede Royg netted a forehand, Kvitova had the break and a 6-5 lead.


Closure came courtesy of the most electrifying point of the match.


Knotted at 30-all, Kvitova charged forward to run down a drop shot, slid her reply down the line, backpedaled to drive a backhand swing volley, then closed net again for a sleek backhand drop volley for match point. Kvitova closed her 22nd career French Open victory on a Cepede Royg error.


“I’m very glad for sure,” Kvitova said. “I expected a tough match, obviously. I played great so far on clay, but it’s a little different conditions, the balls are a little different…To play her in the first round it’s pretty tough.”


Today’s win came a year to the day after Kvitova made an emotional French Open comeback powering past American Julia Boserup, 6-3, 6-2, in her first match since she suffered stab wounds to her left hand that required a three-hour plus surgery in to repair ligament and tendon damage.


The left-handed Czech’s entire support team—including her parents Jiri and Pavla, brothers Jiri and Libor and friend and sometime Fed Cup teammate Lucie Hradecka—wore black t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Courage, Belief, Pojd”, a Czech word for “come on.”


“With the heart, anything is possible,” Kvitova said after her comeback last year.


Continuing her quest for her fifth title of the season, the two-time Wimbledon winner will face another tricky test in round two when she takes on clay-court specialist Lara Arruabarrena.


“It was a happy moment for me last time,” Kvitova said of her stirring 2017 comeback. “It didn’t came to my mind today. So it was pretty surprising my first round last year was a little quicker than today, but that’s how it is obviously. I’ve done good things the past 12 months. I’m healthy, that’s important.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *