After a disappointing year so far at the Majors, where she has won just two matches, world #8 Petra Kvitova will look to get back on track at the Canadian Open in Montreal ahead of the US Open. Standing between her and a place in the third round is Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who despite being just 22-years-of-age, has already accomplished a commendable amount in the sport and is having a career-year. But will she be able to stop Kvitova or will the Czech star have too much?
Kvitova and Kontaveit have met three times so far in their careers in a head-to-head Kvitova leads 2-1. That included victory in their first meeting which came a year ago in Cincinnati. Kontaveit made a fast start in that one, winning the first set 6-1, but Kvitova dug in and turned the match around, eventually triumphing 1-6 7-6 6-3. She again won in three sets in Madrid this year, 6-7 6-3 6-3, but Kontaveit had her revenge in Paris, ousting Kvitova 7-6 7-6 in the third round.
Path to the second round
This will be Kvitova’s first competitive match since Wimbledon after receiving a first-round bye as one of the top eight seeds. At the Championships she was forced to swallow the disappointment of a first-round exit at the hands of the talented young Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who beat her 6-4 4-6 6-0. It added to a loss in the first round at Melbourne Park and the aforementioned defeat to Kontaveit in Paris in the round of 32.
Kontaveit, without the luxury of a seeding, began her tournament against Ekaterina Makarova. The Russian had suffered the disappointment of defeat to Ana Bogdan in the first round in Washington where she was defending champion. But she started well against Kontaveit, taking the first set 6-4. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for Makarova, as Kontaveit launched an impressive fight back to turn the match around and win 4-6 6-3 6-1.
How do they match up?
Kvitova will look to dictate from the outset in this match with clean, powerful hitting from the back of the court. Her biggest weapon off the ground is her forehand, with the Czech particularly adept at hitting it inside-out. As a left-hander, she is also able to target opponents’ backhands with her cross-court forehand which has proven a profitable tactic for her throughout her career. Her serve is also amongst the best on Tour, and Kontaveit will need to return well.
Kontaveit, however, is a master at disrupting her opponent’s rhythm. Though capable of injecting plenty of pace, she is not reliant on it. Rather, the Estonian typically looks to give her opponents a variety of looks to unsettle them, whilst minimising her own unforced error count. It is not a fool proof strategy, at times she can be guilty of leaving the ball too short and inviting pressure and her attempts at consistency are not always successful. But she is never a straightforward opponent.
Kvitova may have struggled badly at the Slams, where by her own admission nerves have gotten the better of her, but away from the biggest stages she has been excellent. She recorded back-to-back title wins in Prague and Madrid earlier this season and also won the Birmingham Classic in the lead up to Wimbledon. And whilst hard courts have never been her favourite surface, they do usually reward big-hitters, which the Czech certainly is. Kvitova in three.
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