World number 12 Carla Suárez Navarro began her week at the inaugural Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy event held in Zhuhai in emphatic fashion, defeating an ailing Andrea Petkovic 6-0, 6-0. With this win, Suárez Navarro will be able to qualify for the semi finals if she defeats WTA rising star Elina Svitolina in her second and final round robin match on Thursday. Any other result, and Svitolina would progress into the last four.
Suárez Navarro Fights Off Early Break Points, Sails Right Through the Rest of Set Number One
Coming into this match, Suárez Navarro had met Petkovic five times, with the head-to-head record 3-2 in the Spaniard's favour. As you can see, there wasn't much to separate the two and judging by the early exchanges, it looked like it would be another tight match between the two good friends. Straight off the bat, Petkovic earned herself two break points but Suárez Navarro fought both of them off with some well-placed serves. As a result, the Spaniard would go on to hold a long opening service game. That hold of serve proved to be crucial as it seemed to settle any nerves that Suárez Navarro had left in her, as she broke at the first time of asking before consolidating the break to open up an early 3-0 lead. Noticeably struggling to find her rhythm, Petkovic made some more costly unforced errors en route to getting broken for a second time. Take nothing away from Suárez Navarro though, she was hitting the ball very well, and looked more like the Carla Suárez Navarro we saw in the first half of 2015. Now leading 4-0, it was seemingly smooth sailing for the Spanish number two as she was just soaking up all of Petkovic's power, en route to consolidating the double break. Now serving to stay in the opening set, the German raced out to a 40-0 lead but her Spanish counterpart fought back impressively to push the game to deuce, and would go on to break at the second time of asking to win the opening set 6-0.
Suárez Navarro Loses Just Six Points in Set Number Two, Completes the Double Bagel Against An Ailing Petkovic
Prior to the commencement of the second set, Petkovic knew she was in no condition to compete, but stayed on court anyway for what she said, was to show her respect for the sport she had always loved. The German called for the trainer and got her knee taped, in an attempt to decrease the pain in her left knee. She had seen tough times before, and since she has fought through numerous injuries to her back, ankle and left knee, she decided to continue.
That medical time out didn't seem to change anything as Petkovic's knee injury impacted her mobility dramatically while Suárez Navarro continued where she left off in the second set. Petkovic struggled to run, let alone run laterally. She didn't chase down the balls she normally did, and the inner competitor in her seemed to have disappeared. Suárez Navarro on the other hand, was like a brick wall, and forced Petkovic to hit an extra ball time and time again, which eventually drew unforced errors from the German.
After holding in the opening game of the second set, Suárez Navarro broke and held once more to open up a sizeable 6-0, 3-0 lead. From that point on, it looked like all the fight inside Petkovic had diminished and was replaced with sadness. At some points in the second set, the 28-year-old was close to tears, something we rarely see from such a greater competitor. Suárez Navarro refused to miss from that point on as in the blink of an eye, she had completed a clinical 6-0, 6-0 win over her good friend. The Spaniard lost just six points in the entire set, and only lost one in the final three games of the match. As the two friends shared a warm embrace at the net, the Chinese crowd respectfully applauded Suárez Navarro's masterclass of a performance, as well as Petkovic's effort to hang in this match for as long as she did.
Post-Match Quotes From Suárez Navarro and Petkovic
"It's [a] difficult situation because I've known Andrea for [a] long time," Suárez Navarro said moments after the match. "She's really professional, a little bit [injured] in her left knee, I think."
"I really appreciate that she fought because she was on the court the whole time, and didn't retire. She played not only for herself, but for the fans and for me. Not a lot of players on the circuit would stay on court with a situation like that, but she did."
"I just tried to be focused and tried to play my game and some good tennis. Maybe it was more of a sad win for me."
"I was just trying to respect the game as best I can," said an emotional Petkovic in front of the media. "It was so difficult because I didn't feel like I was respecting the game the way I was playing. But retiring and not giving Carla - because she was playing incredibly well - I didn't want to take that away from her also. I just had this inner fight with me."