Sloane Stephens’ groundhog day experience at the Western and Southern Open continued on Wednesday in Cincinnati, as she once again defeated one of the women she beat last week on her way to the Rogers Cup semifinals. This time it was Petra Kvitova who was on the receiving end of Stephens’ powerful game. And this time, Kvitova was no match for the American who blasted her way to a 6-2, 6-3 victory.
Stephens’ assault pays off
Last week, the pair dueled late into the night with Stephens eventually emerging victorious. Back on home soil, the American looked to avoid a repeat of last week’s epic, coming out swinging and taking an early lead by breaking Kvitova in the third game for a 2-1 lead. She nearly gave the break right back in the following game, falling behind double break point. After failing to convert her first break point, the Czech had a chance to put the break away, only for her forehand drive from the midcourt to catch the net cord, slowing it enough for Stephens to rip a passing shot. The American would hold.
Normally an offensive juggernaut, Kvitova was failing to put any kind of pressure on her opponent, even behind her formidable serve. She quickly fell behind 15-40 on her own serve again in the seventh game and, after saving the first break point with a big serve, Kvitova sent a backhand wide on the second to hand the double break lead to Stephens at 5-2. The American quickly held to wrap up the opening set.
Kvitova rally falls short
The Czech was clearly struggling at the start of the second set, as more errors gave Stephens a 15-40 advantage in the first game of the set. Kvitova sent a backhand long to surrender the immediate break. Two games later, the Czech was broken again. This time, she called for the trainer and would take a medical timeout while the trainer looked at her heavily bandaged right thigh.
Kvitova came out of the medical timeout stronger, finally holding to get on the board at 4-1. Suddenly, the Czech’s big shots were beginning to find their marks as Kvitova suddenly broke back to reclaim one of the breaks. In her next return game, with the score now 4-3 in the American’s favour, the Czech held two break points in the game. But Stephens came up big, holding to move to within a game of victory. The failure to break broke Kvitova’s momentum as the two-time Wimbledon champion was broken to love as she served to stay in the match, sending Stephen’s into the third round with a straight-sets win.
By the numbers
Kvitova tried to be aggressive, but her weapons were not finding the mark. She committed 18 unforced errors in the opening set alone. Considering that both women possess powerful serves, there were no aces in the match. Kvitova hit five double faults, only won 54 percent of her first serve points and 33 percent of her second serves. Stephens, on the other hand, won 70 percent of her first serve points and 61 percent of her seconds. The American was lethal on break points, converting five of her six while saving four of five against her own serve.
Stephens’ repeat of her Toronto run will end in the third round as she will play Ekaterina Makarova in the third round, who downed Stephens’ third round opponent in Toronto Angelique Kerber earlier on Wednesday.