Czech left-hander Petra Kvitova yesterday advanced to the French Open quarter-finals for the first time in eight years as she overpowered China’s Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-4.
On yet another chilly day in the French capital, seventh seed Kvitova’s superior firepower proved decisive as she posted her fourth successive straight-sets victory.
With so many big names already out, twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova will sense a golden title opportunity as she heads into a quarter-final against unseeded German Laura Siegemund.
“It was a great one today for sure,” said Kvitova, who returned to action at the 2017 French Open following a knife attack six months earlier that left her with career-threatening hand injuries.
“To be back on the same court that I made my comeback and to make the quarter-final is something I didn’t expect. I’m trying to play faster here and play aggressive off the returns,” she told Eurosport.
The 30-year-old, whose best finish in Paris was reaching the semi-finals in 2012, made her intentions clear from the start as she seized on anything short to dominate from the baseline, moving 4-0 ahead in 15 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Zhang finally began to dig her heels in as Kvitova’s error count increased, but she was unable to turn the tide.
Kvitova had to wait around in the cold as Zhang took a medical timeout at the end of the first set, but she turned up the heat to get an early break in the second.
She broke again to lead 5-2, but some wild errors allowed the Chinese to win two straight games and create some tension.
However, Kvitova regained her focus to seal the victory with a love service hold.
World No. 66 Siegemund, the oldest player left in the draw at 32, beat Spain’s Paula Badosa 7-5, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
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