The second-highest ranked Aussie Daria Gavrilova faced fifth seed and defending champion Petra Kvitova for the third time in nine months in the round of 16 of the Mutua Madrid Open. The 22-year-old Gavrilova denied the Czech of a spot in the quarterfinals by upsetting her opponent in straight sets for the second time in a row, ending Kvitova's title defence in the Spanish capital.
Gavrilova earns the sole break to take the first set
Proceedings began with a love hold by Gavrilova and another hold of serve by her opponent followed suit. Both players did not face any break points in the ensuing five games. With Gavrilova now having held serve to lead 4-3, Kvitova began the next game sloppily.
The Aussie immediately had her sights on two chances to break the Czech's serve, but they were put away by Kvitova. The Czech, however, ended up losing the game and Gavrilova now had a chance to claim the first set for the good. She did so by converting her first set point to win it 6-3 in exactly two-thirds of an hour after a Kvitova return went long.
Kvitova gives away decisive break and the match
The second set did not go the way of the defending champion as she was broken right away in the opening game. There seemed to be a glimmer of hope for Kvitova when she earned her first break point of the match in the following game and she managed to break back on her third attempt. Things however seem to go downhill immediately as her Australian opponent broke right back once again for a 2-1 lead. Gavrilova continued by denying the Czech of break point conversions in the next game as she bravely saved all three break points to consolidate the break and lead 3-1.
Kvitova never recovered from the service break. With Gavrilova serving up 4-3, all seemed over for the Czech when she failed to convert her final break opportunity of the match. After the Czech held her serve in the following game, the Aussie held her nerve to comfortably secure the victory on her first match point after a backhand from her opponent sailed wide. The score was 6-3, 6-4. Gavrilova needed roughly an hour and 40 minutes to dispatch her opponent and move on to the quarterfinals.
The numbers described Kvitova's erratic day at the office. Despite recording four more winners than Gavrilova (22 to 18), she made 30 unforced erros as opposed to her opponent's 19 which cost her the match. The Aussie's serve was one of her strengths as she recorded a higher percentage of first serves than Kvitova (73 percent to 63 percent). Moreover, Gavrilova had a greater percentage of first serve points won than her opponent (64 percent to 53 percent)
After the match, Kvitova spoke of the abdominal injury suffered two weeks ago in Stuttgart where she made the semifinals. She was given the green light to play as it was a minor injury, but the lack of practice got the better off the Czech today. She managed to begin practising only on Saturday which was a day before her opening round match. She was, however, still satisfied to leave Madrid with two wins under belt given the constraints she faced.
Gavrilova, who is high on confidence, will now clash with surprise American qualifier Louisa Chirico. Chirico advanced after fourth seed Victoria Azarenka pulled out with a back injury. Both players will eye a spot in the semifinals in what is now a decimated top half of the draw.