Wimbledon: Aliaksandra Sasnovich stuns title favourite Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova did not look at her best today, but Aliaksandra Sasnovich's incredible efforts saw her overcoming the Czech in three sets to claim the biggest upset of Wimbledon thus far.

Wimbledon: Aliaksandra Sasnovich stuns title favourite Petra Kvitova
Aliaksandra Sasnovich now owns a decent chance to make the second week at Wimbledon for the first time in her career | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Aliaksandra Sasnovich
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Petra Kvitova

In what could the biggest upset of the tournament, a fatigued Petra Kvitova was stunned by the unheralded and inspired Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who was a silent riser in the rankings throughout the year. The Belarusian played the best match of her career, earning her second career top-10 victory with an unbelievable 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 scoreline, grabbing the two-hour and 14-minutes win out on Court 1.

Coming into the encounter as the huge underdog having gone on a five-match losing streak on grass dating back to 2017, Sasnovich had little chances of triumphing but put up a spirited performance to stun the Wimbledon crowd, who all had Kvitova as the major favourite to claim the title after an impressive grass-court season.

It was an excellent performance from the Belarusian, who constantly applied the pressure on Kvitova’s serve and ultimately sending down a bagel while utilizing her array of shots which often left the Czech misfooted.

Sasnovich steals the opening set in 56 minutes

Starting the match with a double-fault could well reflect how the match will go for Kvitova — though she managed to recover in time and retrieve from a 0-30 hole to hold serve in the opening game. Sasnovich was challenging the Czech in the baseline rallies and Kvitova was attempting to charge towards the net more often to end the points. That tactic proved to be risky, but useful, as Kvitova was able to escape from a dangerous service game early on, fending off four break points in two games.

It was a sluggish start from Kvitova though she managed to rebound to win the second set later on | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
It was a sluggish start from Kvitova though she managed to rebound to win the second set later on | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

It was a series of tight service games with both players conceding break point opportunities in three consecutive games, taking over 25 minutes to just complete them. Kvitova earned her first chances to make a breakthrough but a slew of unforced errors coupled alongside Sasnovich’s aggression saw the Belarusian surviving the tricky game before drawing the first blood, with Kvitova sending a wild smash error before Sasnovich capitalized on her chances to grab the lead.

She consolidated the break with ease, but Kvitova threatened to level the scores after rattling off seven of the next eight points to earn another two break points. However, inconsistent play saw the Czech struggling with her game, together with the tricky conditions which make the surface slower than usual. Sasnovich narrowly escaped and fired down an ace to earn her first set point, which she dutifully converted.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich completed the impossible — stunning huge favourite Kvitova in the first round | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Aliaksandra Sasnovich completed the impossible — stunning huge favourite Kvitova in the first round | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

Kvitova fights back to send the match into a decider

After taking the opening set, the level of play in Sasnovich’s game experienced a significant dip as Kvitova took advantage, breaking serve for the first time in the contest to earn an early 2-0 lead in the second set. Kvitova’s forehands were firing on all cylinders and her lead was extended to a formidable three games with yet another comfortable hold.

Kvitova continued to struggle but her powerful serves saved her from the brink yet again — erasing a break point to hold onto her lead tightly. Unlike the first set, the second was much straightforward and the world number seven looked to restore proceedings by serving for the set at 5-3.

Just when it mattered, Kvitova suffered from a slight misfocus and became increasingly passive. This resulted in Sasnovich grabbing the immediate break back and returning on serve out of nowhere. Nonetheless, the two-time Wimbledon champion rebounded in time, sealing the second set 6-4 after 45 minutes of play.

Petra Kvitova faltered in the deciding set, looking tired and fatigued | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Petra Kvitova faltered in the deciding set, looking tired and fatigued | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

Sasnovich stuns Kvitova

A tough opening service game from Kvitova started the third and deciding set as Sasnovich prevailed in a battle of volleys at the net to draw the first blood and make the first breakthrough. The first four games all went to 30-30, showing how tight the contest was — but all of them were won by Sasnovich as she showed absolute brilliance and confidence in her game, winning the important points to grab the huge lead.

Kvitova had the golden opportunity to get onto the scoreboard in the third game, but double-faulted on game point and ultimately paved the way for Sasnovich to earn her second straight break. The eighth seed owned another break point but was wasteful on her chances, eventually losing 11 of the last 12 points as Sasnovich, cool as a cucumber, threw in consecutive aces to close out the match.