Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Petra Kvitova concedes she is struggling with expectation

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic plays day seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitova is feeling the pressure of expectation as she continues her bid for a second Wimbledon title.

The 2011 champion has not had a strong season but has found herself in a similar position to Andy Murray as seeds tumbled from the bottom half of the draw.

Early exits for Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki left Kvitova as the standout name, and the eighth seed booked her place in the quarter-finals yesterday with a 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 victory over Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.

Her title prospects then immediately appeared to improve when red-hot favourite Serena Williams, in the top half of the draw, was knocked out by Sabine Lisicki, but Kvitova is looking only one match ahead.

Next up for 23-year-old Kvitova is Belgian 20th seed Kirsten Flipkens, while 15th seed Marion Bartoli is the highest-ranked player she could meet in the semi-finals.

Kvitova said: "Everybody is talking about me being the highest seeded player in my half; I'm supposed to be already in the final. That's something it's not really easy to hear.

"The girls who are in these rounds, they are playing their best. They are in good form, they are in good shape. That's quite tricky."

The eighth seed had struggled through to the last 16 but played better tennis on Court Three.

The first set was tight, with Kvitova breaking to lead 6-5 only for Suarez Navarro, who possesses an elegant one-handed backhand, to hit back and force a tie-break.

Kvitova edged that and then moved ahead with a break in the sixth game of the second set before serving out to love for the victory.

This is the third consecutive year that the Czech has reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals, and she was happiest with her mental strength yesterday.

Kvitova said: "I didn't play my best, especially in the first set. But it's important to win the last point, which is what I did. It was important for me.

"Today was about my mental side, and I was quite positive. I think it helped me a lot to stay positive and fight for every point."

American Sloane Stephens reached her second Grand Slam quarter-final of the year, beating 19-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Stephens, who is 20, eliminated Serena Williams in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January to reach her first career major semi-final.

Next for Stephens in her second appearance at Wimbledon is a match against No. 15 Marion Bartoli. Bartoli booked her spot in the quarter-finals following a comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory over Karin Knapp.

Both players held their opening service games of the first set, but consecutive breaks for Bartoli moments later allowed the 28-year-old to move into a 4-1 lead.

Knapp did respond with a break of her own, but the Italian could not hold as Baroli secured another break before serving for the first set.

It was a similar story in the second and what proved to be final set, with Bartoli breaking at 1-1 before another break at 3-5 allowed the world number 15 to book her spot in the next round.

Agnieszka Radwanska has also booked her spot in the quarter-finals following a 4-6 6-3 6-3 victory over Tzvetana Pironkova.

Radwanska, the fourth seed and the 2012 losing finalist, was made to work all the way throughout the encounter.

The the 24-year-old recovered from a set down and is now the highest remaining seed left in the women's draw after Serena Williams shock exit.

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