Petra Kvitova has continued her perfect start to the 2023 season in Australia, with smooth progress into the Adelaide International 2 second round.
Following match wins over Jessica Pegula and Laura Siegemund at the United Cup in Sydney last week, the 32-year-old launched her Adelaide campaign with a 6-2 7-5 win over Elena Rybakina.
It was a clash of two Wimbledon champions in South Australia, with Kvitova lifting trophies at the All England Club in 2011 and 2014, while Rybakina triumphed at The Championships last year.
Another factor that favoured Rybakina, a 23-year-old from Kazakhstan, was her performance as runner-up to Ash Barty in Adelaide last year.
From the outset, however, it was Kvitova who competed with greater authority in the first-round encounter, the Czech claiming a service break in the sixth game to take control of the first set.
After a tighter second set, Kvitova closed out victory after an hour and 25 minutes to set up a second-round clash with the winner between Shelby Rogers and Zheng Qinwen..
“My serve really worked very well today, so that’s why I’m very happy and obviously it was a tough first round,” said Kvitova, who served seven aces, just one double fault and didn’t face a break point against Rybakina.
“We didn’t really have a lot of rallies. It was about the serve and first one or two points of the rallies, so I’m glad that I was there for every shot.”
Kvitova, the runner-up at Australian Open 2019, was equally grateful to return to a favourite setting in Australia.
Currently ranked world No.16, Kvitova has claimed two of her 29 professional singles trophies in Sydney and noted that participating in the inaugural United Cup mixed teams tournament last week added to confidence, especially on Australia’s hard courts.
“I love quicker surfaces,” said the left-hander. “I really enjoyed it, especially with the boys. It was a fun vibe and everything. It just gave me great practices and great matches and a great attitude as well.
“I came here playing quite well, so I’m glad that I showed it today as well.”
Danielle Collins is similarly partial to the conditions in Australia, as the American demonstrated in a sound 6-2 6-4 victory over Karolina Pliskova.
“I always enjoy the atmosphere and the awesome food here in Adelaide and just being here,” said Collins, who required an hour and 17 minutes to secure victory.
“I’m lucky to be back and hope to keep the good momentum going.”
Showing the form that saw her finish runner-up at Australian Open 2022, Collins raced to a 5-0 first-set lead against Pliskova before the Czech briefly rallied.
A former world No.1. Pliskova has fallen to world No.31 after injury and form challenges over the past year. Maximising her heavy groundstrokes, she clawed one game back as Collins served for the opener, but it proved a temporary reprieve.
“She hit some really good shots that were too good,” the American noted of Pliskova. “I just had to try and make some adjustments and get myself back into it, get my rhythm and just stay calm.”
Movement, efficiency and composure were all sound for the American, who recalibrated to set up a second-round meeting with Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann.
The world No.33 Teichmann was a 7-5 6-4 winner over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was contesting her first match in eight months after an injury break.
Belinda Bencic also accumulated a confidence-boosting win in Adelaide, firing 10 aces among 21 total winners as she eliminated former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza.
“I think I served really clean today, I think that was my biggest weapon,” said the delighted No.6 seed, who lost only seven points on her own serve as she secured a 6-3 6-4 victory in 79 minutes.
The world No.13 from Switzerland, who is chasing a sixth singles title at professional level, will meet either Jelena Ostapenko or Anna Kalinskaya in Adelaide’s second round.
Beatriz Haddad-Maia also moved into the second round of the WTA 500 tournament, the world No.15 from Brazil requiring 77 minutes to complete a 7-6(5) 6-1 victory over Sorana Cirstea.
Ekaterina Alexandrova was another winner on the opening day of Adelaide International 2, claiming a straight-sets win over Australian wildcard recipient Jaimee Fourlis.