WTA St. Petersburg: In-form Petra Kvitova topples Victoria Azarenka

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WTA St. Petersburg: In-form Petra Kvitova topples Victoria Azarenka

Just four days after competing in the Australian Open final, the world no. 2 and the top seed Petra Kvitova is through to the quarter-final in St. Petersburg, beating Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 40 minutes. This was the fifth win for the Czech against the Belarusian in eight matches, facing each other for the first time since Toronto 2015, securing the win after hitting 40 winners and 33 unforced errors, keeping the points on her racquet from start to finish.

Petra was 6-2, 5-1 up, controlling the scoreboard and creating a match point in the seventh game of the second set to seal the deal in no time at all. Out of sudden, Azarenka found the range and confidence in the very last moment, repelling it and breaking Petra twice to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard before hitting the exit door when Kvitova won the tie break 7-3.

Despite a terrible performance on the second serve, Petra stayed ahead after saving four out of eight break points, keeping the pressure on Vika all the time and stealing six return games to prevail in straight sets. It was a shaky start of the encounter for both, trading four breaks of serve in the opening four games and with Kvitova who had to save a pair of break points at 2-2 for the first hold of the match.

Azarenka was far from that pace, winning just eight out of 26 points on serve and suffering four breaks, including the crucial one at 2-5 when Kvitova fired two service winners to wrap up the opener in no time at all. The Czech secured the fifth straight break after a backhand return winner in the second game of the second set and forging a 4-1 lead with a service winner in game five.

Azarenka sprayed a backhand error in the sixth game to find herself 5-1 down and Petra was serving for the match in the following game. She hit a double fault on match point and that could have been the turning point, with Vika pulling one break back to reduce the deficit and prolong the encounter.

Serving for the match for the second time at 5-4, Kvitova sent a backhand long to get broken once again, allowing Azarenka to get back on the scoreboard completely and set a tie break that she lost 7-3 after a backhand down the line winner from Kvitova who will now face Donna Vekic or Veronika Kudermetova. Wednesday's results:

First round result: 
[Q]Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) vs [LL]Katie Boulter (GBR) 7-5 4-6 6-1
Second round result: 
[1]Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs [WC]Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-2 7-6(3)