Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova returned to her best on Friday during a Montreal Cup that has been dogged by rain and the withdrawal of world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
Kvitova, who also won the WTA Championships in October last year, is without a title this year, but her 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of ninth-seed Marion Bartoli showed she will be difficult to beat.
Bartoli said Kvitova was almost impossible to defeat when she played at her peak and rated her a harder opponent than either 14-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams or world No. 2 Maria Sharapova when in form.
“She takes away from you the control of the match,” Bartoli told reporters. “I never felt like this against Serena or Sharapova. When I was serving well, she returned a missile,” she said.
Aiding the cause of Kvitova, who will play Tamira Paszek in the quarter-finals of the US$2 million tournament, was Friday’s withdrawal of Azarenka with a knee injury.
Azarenka, who would lose her top ranking should Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska win, also withdrew from the next week’s Cincinnati Open next week, but hopes to be fit for the Aug. 27-Sept. 9 US Open, the year’s final major.
“I hope it’s a short-term thing. I have to just stop and take a little bit of time off because I had absolutely no rest for a long period of time,” she said. “If I cannot play here, there is no chance for me to play anywhere else. My first goal is to get healthy and make sure I’m 100 percent ready to play the US Open.”
The Belarussian’s withdrawal came two days after Sharapova pulled out due to a stomach virus that will also prevent her from playing in Cincinnati.
Also assisting the Montreal hopes of Kvitova and Radwanska, whose Friday match against Chanelle Scheepers is in doubt due to rain that has again postponed play, is the exit of last year’s finalist, Australian Sam Stosur.
US Open champion Stosur lost her third-round clash with 16th seed Lucie Safarova 7-6, 7-6 after wasting several chances.
Earlier on Friday, sixth seed Angelique Kerber and seventh seed Caroline Wozniacki were successful in matches interrupted by rain on Thursday.
Aleksandra Wozniak, on the verge of becoming the first Canadian women to reach the quarter-finals of this event since 1992, led Christina McHale 7-6, 5-2 when rain halted play.