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Kvitova upsets Kerber at Ken Rosewall Arena

In a heavyweight battle between multiple major champions, Petra Kvitova ends Angelique Kerber’s Sydney title defence and delivers the German her first loss of 2019.
10 January 2019, by sydneyinternational.com.au / AAP

In a stop-start affair due to multiple rain delays, Petra Kvitova emerged triumphant over Angelique Kerber to reach the Sydney International semifinals.

The fifth seed beat the second seed and defending champion 6-4 6-1 to advance to a meeting in the last four with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The Belarusian earlier on Thursday saw off Timea Bacsinszky 6-3 6-3 to be the first player through to the semifinals.

The Kvitova-Kerber match was a blockbuster set for Thursday evening, yet the affair was beset by more than two hours of rain delays.

Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, and Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion, were forced from the court for 50 minutes in just the second service game, before returning briefly.

However they were back off 15 minutes later for another hour and 45 minutes, with Kerber holding two break points at 2-2 in the first set.

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“The weather is not great during this week, and it’s not really easy to wait for the matches when it’s rain interrupted but I’m glad that I was able to come back on the court and play well,” Kvitova said.

“In the second time (off court) we played some games, some cards. I had a sandwich, I was listening to music and I was waiting (for) when the rain stopped.”

When play resumed, it was Kvitova who began to get on top.

From 4-2 down, the Czech reeled off five straight games thanks to high quality play, delivering her the first set and an early lead in the second before Kerber got on the board.

Yet from 1-1, Kvitova – the 2015 champion in Sydney – went on another five-game tear to seal victory.

Kvitova was asked on court after the match what her goals were in 2019 after a brilliant last season during which she won five WTA titles and returned to the top five, ending the year at No.7.

“Stay healthy and enjoy the tennis, for sure, which I’m really trying this week and it’s really worth it,” she revealed.

“So that’s probably the most important thing for me to enjoy what I’m doing. It’s a very beautiful sport and I’m just glad that I’m able to play.”

The result ended Angelique Kerber’s title defence and marked her first loss of 2019; she went undefeated in singles at the Hopman Cup before winning her second-round match over Camila Giorgi on Tuesday night.

Kvitova, meanwhile, has not dropped a set in three victories in Sydney, and now leads her head-to-head series against Kerber 7-6.

In her one and only previous meeting with Sasnovich, Kvitova was stunned in three sets in the opening round in 2018.

“I know I do have tough opponent tomorrow – I lost to her in Wimbledon so it will be a tough one,” Kvitova said.

“So I’m not really thinking too much ahead. Step by step (laughter).”