Their last match at the WTA Finals in October turned out to be a cracker, which is why Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza’s showdown in the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Friday was a hugely anticipated contest.
World No. 7 Kvitova had lost that match despite being ahead in the deciding set. This time, she came prepared for another engaging tussle with the fourth-ranked Muguruza and managed to produce her very best in the third set to emerge victorious, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.
The two-time Wimbledon winner made her intentions clear right from the start. She served brilliantly, took the ball on the rise and moved forward at every opportunity. Soon Muguruza was feeling under the weather as the Kvitova blitzkrieg grabbed a 6-1 first set.
But for all her peaks, the 26-year-old’s game does have its troughs too. Under attack from a ruthless Muguruza, Kvitova finally caved in on her serve and conceded a 4-2 second set advantage to the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up.
The momentum, however, quickly turned back in favour of the experienced Czech in the decider as she blasted through it 6-0 while the Spaniard’s unforced errors kept on mounting.
Kvitova should expect another huge battle ahead as her next opponent too beat her the last time. 2016 Australian Open winner and the Stuttgart defending champion Angelique Kerber notched up a straight-sets win over the Czech in the 2015 WTA Finals and would aim for an encore on Saturday.
The German No. 1 had absolutely no problem in her quarter-final against the seventh seed Carla Suarez Navarro, except for the fag end of the match. Kerber came storming out of the blocks and before long, she was marching ahead at 6-2, 5-3.
The Spaniard broke back after that but the second seed soon wrapped up the match to advance to the semi-finals.
Top seed Radwanska enter semis
Top seed Agnieszka Radwanska had never lost to the World No. 18 Karolina Pliskova on five previous occasions. On Friday, she maintained her record over the Czech, beating the 24-year-old 6-2, 7-6(8) after surviving a stiff challenge from her in the latter stages of the match.
Pliskova was a break up in the second set after surrendering the first set meekly. It allowed her to surge ahead 3-2, but it was only a matter of minutes before the Pole came back to level the set.
The match was sent to a tie-break which was an absorbing one as Pliskova saved three match points with some fiery returns. But Radwanska proved too crafty for her in the end as she made her fifth semi-final of the season.
She will next meet the German qualifier Laura Siegemund, who continues her impressive run as she upset yet another seed. A day after earning the biggest win of her career over Simona Halep, the Stuttgart native beat the sixth seed Roberta Vinci, 6-1, 6-4 to book her place in the semi-finals of this tournament for the very first time.