Last year’s Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova, seeded seventh at this year’s edition of the opening Grand Slam of the season, seeks to replicate a similar success this year. The world number eight, who is on a collision course with world number one Ashleigh Barty in the last eight, takes on fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova in her opening match.
This match is the only all-Czech encounter in the first round stage of the draw, and it is the also second match scheduled for the first day of tournament play on Margaret Court Arena.
Kvitova enters the first Grand Slam of the season 12 months removed from the biggest final appearance since her comeback from a knife attack at her home in the Czech Republic December 2016. The Czech lost a close epic three-setter to Naomi Osaka in the championship match here last year but it was also her best showing of the tournament since quarterfinal and semifinal runs in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
The Czech finished 2019 in the top 10 for the second year in a row, seventh overall of her career. It was a weird season for the double Wimbledon champion which saw her make four finals including the Australian Open, winning two of those, but also struggled with injuries throughout the season, particularly a forearm issue. However, Kvitova rebounded with a strong start to 2020, posting a semifinal result in Brisbane, her best here since winning the title 2011.
Kvitova’s younger compatriot, Siniakova, will be making her sixth appearance at this tournament. The 23-year-old, however, has managed just two wins under her belt here, her most recent one coming in 2018. Siniakova has two titles to her name, both coming in 2017 in Shenzhen and Bastad, but her best result since then remains a runner-up finish in Shenzhen 2018 where she was the defending champion.
Siniakova’s 2020 started off on a different pace than Kvitova. She opened her season in Shenzhen but was defeated in the opening round by eventual champion Ekaterina Alexandrova.
This will be the third clash between the pair. Their first meeting came in 2018 at their home tournament in Prague where Kvitova swept Siniakova aside in straight sets in the last eight en route to winning the title. They met once more in the second round of Dubai last year and Siniakova managed to make more inroads this time around, taking her older compatriot to three sets, but was ultimately sent packing in the end.
Since May 2012, Kvitova has never lost to a compatriot not named Pliskova. In this period, the former world number two has amassed a total of 29 wins over Czech players coupled with two losses, one to each Pliskova twin. The older Czech will be seeking to assert her domination when she takes on her younger compatriot Monday.
Meeting this early in the season, however, both players are still rather rusty, each having played just one tournament but it could very well be Kvitova who is slightly the more disadvantaged in this aspect as the older Czech is prone to early upsets at the Grand Slams. Expect the younger Siniakova to give Kvitova trouble early in the match but the latter’s experience should ultimately see her through to the next round here.
Prediction: Petra Kvitova in three sets