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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, January 26, 2020

 
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Petra Kvitova rallied past Maria Sakkari 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Sounds of soaring jets and singing chants from Greek fans filled the air in Rod Laver Arena.

Melbourne was in motion for this Australia Day celebration, but Petra Kvitova was in no mood for early departure.

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A calm Kvitova rallied past Maria Sakkari 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second straight year and fourth time overall.




Upsets have rocked the AO women's draw as defending champion Naomi Osaka, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and second-seeded Karolina Pliskova all failed to survive the third round.

The quiet Kvitova withstood all sorts of turbulence today solidifying her status as a title contender. Kvitova and reigning Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty are the only Grand Slam champions still standing in the top half of the draw. They could meet for a semifinal spot if world No. 1 Barty beats American Alison Riske later today.

In a clash pitting Kvitova's power and explosiveness against Sakkari's speed and spin control, Kvitova hit through the athletic Greek during the final set. Contesting her first major fourth round match, Sakkari sped out to a 2-0 lead.

Slowly, Kvitova began hitting her spots on serve, dotting the sideline with an ace and sliding a serve inside the opposite sideline holding for 3-4.

Three straight breaks sent the opening set into a tie breaker. At 4-all, the left-hander blinked double faulting into net. Sakkari slid a bold second serve down the T for set points and whipped a wide serve to build a one-set lead. 




Kvitova began curling her crosscourt forehand ith more depth to the Sakkari backhand. 

The 2019 finalist had only dropped serve twice en route to the fourth round, but an energized Sakkari scored her third break of the afternoon to level the second set after two games.

Staring down double break point in the fourth game, Kvitova turned her hips and shoulders into heavy drives. Kvitova repelled both break points running off seven straight points.

A suddenly skittish Sakkari slapped two double faults, including a double fault to donate the break and 3-2 lead to Kvitova.

Still, the seventh seed faced a familiar problem: putting enough balls back in court. The speedy Sakkari drained a series of errors breaking back to level after six games.

Tomahawking a two-handed return winner down the line, Kvitova banged out her fourth break in her last five return games extending to 4-3.

A talented player with all-court skills, Sakkari can get skittish on second serve. The Greek tripped her fifth double fault off the top of the tape gifting a sixth break as Kvitova forced a decider after 97 minutes of play.

Stepping inside the baseline, Kvitova spread the court beautifully with a series of forehands earning the first break of the final set. Kvitova sent Sakkari scrambling into the doubles alley chasing a slice serve then torched a forehand down the line sealing her sixth straight game for a 3-0 lead in the decider.

Tennis Express

Commitment to the cause and that sling-shot forehand down the line helped Kvitova hold for 4-1.

Power strikes helped Kvitova plow through her eighth break. She thrust her arms to the sky and squealed with delight sealing her 12th Grand Slam quarterfinal in two hours, 12 minutes.


 

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