Petra Kvitova has another tough Australian Open test on her hands as she comes up against Shenzhen champion Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round on Friday.
Petra Kvitova ?? vs Ekaterina Alexandrova ?? Match Info
Date: Friday January 24
Tournament: Australian Open R3
Court: Margaret Court Arena
Time: 1.00pm local time (2.00am GMT)
Petra Kvitova vs Ekaterina Alexandrova Head-to-Head
Petra Kvitova vs Ekaterina Alexandrova Match Preview
Back on Rod Laver Arena for the first time since going down to Naomi Osaka in last year’s Australian Open final, Kvitova was made to work extremely hard in order to advance to the third round on Wednesday.
With blustery winds swirling around centre court, Kvitova – who doesn’t like those sorts of conditions – was fortunate to avoid a three-setter against Spanish newcomer Paula Badosa, edging their second round clash by a 7-5 7-5 scoreline. Kvitova was down 2-4 in the opening set and was forced to save three set points while trailing 4-5 in the second, with Badosa thinking she’d forced a decider with a backhand pass, only for hawk eye to confirm she’d just missed. The Czech went on to recover from 0-40 and win the next three games to secure the win, striking 31 winners and seven aces.
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) January 22, 2020
“Today was really about the nerves, about the wind, about the opponent,” Kvitova said after the match. “I really wasn’t playing probably my game which I wanted to play. I was struggling with the serve a little bit sometimes.
“I was down 4-2, but I was managing to win it somehow. Three set points in the second set. But I think in the end of the day I think this match is kind of important to have, for sure.”
It was certainly a much tougher match than Kvitova’s opening round, where she crushed compatriot Katerina Siniakova for the loss of just one game.
That contest was reminiscent of the form Kvitova showcased this time last year, when she beat Ashleigh Barty to win the Sydney International title and stormed into the Australian Open final with another win over the Australian, with an on-fire Osaka proving too strong in the title match. After making the Adelaide semi-finals to kick off the season, Kvitova is looking like one of the leading contenders in Melbourne once again – but she has a very tricky third round showdown on Friday.
Alexandrova brings a seven-match winning streak into this encounter after winning her maiden WTA title in Shenzhen to start the season, defeating the likes of Wang Qiang, Garbine Muguruza and Elena Rybakina, while she’s advanced to the Australian Open third round for the first time, toppling Jil Teichmann and Barbora Krejcikova.
The 25-year-old first broke into the top 100 in 2017 as she competed in the main draw of all four Grand Slams, ending the year at No. 73 in the world, but she took a step backwards in 2018 (despite making her first WTA final in Linz at the end of the year) as she struggled to adapt to life on the main tour, winning just nine matches as she dropped to a year-end mark of No. 93. However, Alexandrova found her groove in 2019, registering a 30-24 record for the season, making semi-finals in Budapest, Seoul and Linz and quarter-finals in St. Petersburg, s-Hertogenbosch, Eastbourne and Moscow, while she also scored the biggest win of her career over No. 5 Simona Halep to make the R16 in Beijing.
With a maiden WTA title in Shenzhen and Grand Slam third round in Melbourne, 2020 is already shaping as a big year for Alexandrova – can she continue her unbeaten run by stunning last year’s Australian Open runner-up?
Petra Kvitova vs Ekaterina Alexandrova Prediction
It will be the first career meeting between the pair and it will be a battle of first-strike tennis, with both players looking to seize the authority in baseline exchanges. Alexandrova is in career-best form and has the game and power to match it with Kvitova, but she is lacking in experience at this stage of slams, while she hasn’t beaten many top 10 players (just Halep last year and Jelena Ostapenko in 2018). Kvitova should prevail, but Alexandrova is playing well enough to make a contest of it.