Powerful Petra ends stirring teen challenge

  • Suzi Petkovski

Petra Kvitova is the first player into the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, overwhelming 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova 6-2 6-1 in a brisk 59 minutes on Sunday.

The clean-hitting Czech put on an exhibition of power tennis, dropping just seven points on serve and dominating with her lefty forehand.

The No.8 seed immediately broke the youngster and imposed her big-match experience against the No.87-ranked American, keeping the play curt and pacey. The second set was shaping as a more level affair, until 1-all and 40-15 on the Anisimova serve, when Kvitova ripped 10 straight points.

A sixth double fault from the American opened up another breakpoint, Kvitova forged ahead 4-1 and the contest was all but over. Anisimova took one point in the last two games.

MORE: AO2019 women’s singles results

Hard to believe that the underdog defeated the two-time Wimbledon champion 6-2 6-4 in their first meeting almost a year ago at Indian Wells, when Kvitova was in the midst of another winning streak, but ‘overtennised’ by the time she faced Anisimova in the third round.

“I played much better than last year for sure,” said the 28-year-old. “It’s always pressure out there when you’re the favourite of the match.”

And with hard experience of how fearless young players like Anisimova can be.

American born to Russian parents, Anisimova could still be playing juniors. She was born during the 2001 US Open (won by Venus over Serena Williams) and is the youngest player in the WTA top 100. At 17 years five months, she is the youngest to go so deep at a Grand Slam since 2007.

A trimmed-down Kvitova is into her first Melbourne Park quarterfinal since 2012. She has powered past Magdalena Rybarikova, Irina-Camelia Begu, Belinda Bencic and Anisimova for the loss of 17 games. The sublime ball-striker is also on a nine-match winning streak, as the champion in Sydney, with defeats of Angelique Kerber and Ash Barty in a cliff-hanger final.

Anisimova in full flight

“I”m trying to continue my performance from Sydney,” said the thankfully healthy 28-year-old. “I’m really enjoying it.”

Kvitova missed AO2017 recovering from a violent home invasion, and went out first round last year.

At 17 years five months, she is the youngest to go so deep at a Grand Slam since 2007
Anisimova lost against Kvitova, but she's on a major career trajectory

Her quarterfinal opponent will be either Barty, in a replay of the Sydney final, or Maria Sharapova, a rematch of their 2012 semifinal here, Kvitova’s best finish at  Melbourne Park. Then the reigning Wimbledon champion, Kvitova had a shot at the No.1 ranking if she defeated Sharapova, but lost a taut three-setter.

“Doesn’t matter who I face,” said the steamrolling Czech. “I’m there and that’s important.”