Fri, Feb 21, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Kvitova’s Dubai title defense cut short by Navarro


Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain returns to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during their match on the third day of the Dubai Open in Dubai on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Petra Kvitova, who is trying to work her way back into the top three after illness and injury, suffered a blow when the defense of her Dubai Open title lasted no more than one match on Wednesday.

The former world No. 2 from the Czech Republic was beaten by Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who spent much of the match trailing, but her refusal to give up was rewarded with a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win and a place in the quarter-finals.

Navarro’s consistently heavy ground strokes and superior movement prospered more as the conditions grew slower, and she recovered first from a set and 2-4 down, then from 2-4 down in the deciding tie-break.

Kvitova made one good recovery herself, coming from 2-4 in the final set to lead 5-4 before attempting to close the match out on her serve.

However, her flat-hitting game increasingly lacked consistency and gradually the proximity of defeat began to apply its own pressure.

Navarro now plays Alise Cornet, the in-form French No. 1 who followed her conquest of Simona Halep, the seventh-seeded Rumanian who won in Qatar last Sunday, by winning 6-3, 6-4 against Kirsten Flipkens.

Another seed to fall was Sara Errani, the fourth-seeded Italian, who lost early in the Middle East for the second successive week, beaten 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 by Sorana Cirstea, the world No. 27 from Romania.

Earlier on Wednesday Serbia’s former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic claimed that Venus Williams was close to her best again.

The 33-year-old American was certainly impressive in the second-round clash which saw her romp to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Ivanovic and a place in the quarter-finals.

Sister Serena’s next match promises to be a high-voltage affair as she is to face another Serbian former world No. 1 in Jelena Jankovic, who beat the useful Czech Lucie Safarova 7-5, 6-4.

The last meeting between Jankovic and Serena Williams was close and contentious.

It saw Jankovic almost prevent Williams from winning last year’s WTA Championships year-end title in Istanbul, and later appearing to question her sportsmanship.

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