In a clash between two of the WTA Tour’s form players, eighth seed Petra Kvitova takes on Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in what promises to be an excellent clash. Kvitova hasn’t been past the third round in Canada since reaching the quarterfinals in 2013, but she did win the title in 2012 and has already claimed five titles this season. Bertens, meanwhile, has only won a solitary title so far this year but has climbed into the top 20 thanks to some excellent play. Who will come out on top?
Kvitova and Bertens have met twice so far and Kvitova has picked up the win on both occasions. The first came three years ago in the first round at the All England Club and to say Kvitova was dominant would be an understatement. Bertens could not lay a glove on Kvitova in a 1-6 0-6 loss. She came far closer to stopping her earlier this year in the final in Madrid, but Kvitova’s big-match experience paid dividends as she won 7-6 4-6 6-3.
Path to the third round
Kvitova, as the eighth seed in Montreal, received a first-round bye. That meant her clash with Anett Kontaveit in the second round was her first competitive outing since a frustrating 4-6 6-4 0-6 loss to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round, in which nerves played a part in her downfall. But she showed no hangover in dispatching Anett Kontaveit, an opponent who has given her problems in the past and beat her at Roland Garros this year, 6-3 6-4.
Bertens, who is also competing in the doubles alongside Katarina Srebotnik, began her singles campaign against Canadian wildcard Carol Zhao, a former-Stanford college athlete who finished as runner-up in the NCAA singles in 2015. But Zhao has comparatively little experience of the WTA’s highest echelons and was outclassed by Bertens who won 6-2 6-1. She then scored an excellent victory over ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, defeating the Czech 6-2 6-2.
How do they match up?
Central to Kvitova’s success are her powerful groundstrokes which took her to Wimbledon titles in 2011 and 2014. Her forehand is her best shot and there are few, if any, that hit it better than her, particularly inside out. Her backhand is slightly less reliable, but when she is striking it well, it is an effective weapon indeed. Kvitova also has a fine serve, and like most left-handers, uses it out wide to good effect.
Bertens cannot match Kvitova for power from the back of the court, but she excels at aggressive hitting to safe targets. She is most comfortable attacking with her forehand, which is deceptively heavy, and will look to use it to manoeuvre Kvitova out of position before going for a winner. Her backhand is generally solid and she returns well off that wing. Her serve can be vulnerable at times, however, and she will need to avoid allowing Kvitova too many looks at second serves.
Bertens played an excellent match against Pliskova, who is ranked just one place below Kvitova. But, in fairness, Pliskova looked someway from focused in that contest. Kvitova, in contrast, looked razor sharp in defeating Anett Kontaveit. She has also played superb tennis all season when not at the Slams and should have the power to overwhelm Bertens. The fast court surface should also aid her cause. Pliskova in straight sets.