A blockbuster showdown in the second round of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy saw Petra Kvitova defeat Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 7-6 (3) in 1 hour, 41 minutes to reach the last eight. The world number two advances to face Croatian Donna Vekic for a spot in the semifinals.
The Czech ran her winning streak in the tournament to six as she played her first match since her heartbreaking loss to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final and improved her record against the Belarussian to 5-3.
Kvitova gets off to a flying start
The match got off to a scratchy start as both players dumped serve twice to get to a 2-2 score with four straight breaks of serve. Finally, after holding serve while saving two break points, Kvitova broke the Azarenka serve for a third time with a cross court forehand winner.
Ahead 4-2, the Czech held and continued to do damage with her forehand as she belted two more winners to break the former world number one for a fourth time and close out the set 6-2 in just 34 minutes.
It was more of the same in the second set as the defending champion stung a pair of backhand winners to break Azarenka for a fifth straight time and go ahead 2-0, seemingly in firm control. The Belarussian would have a break point in the next game, erased by a backhand winner.
Czech expands her lead, holds off Azarenka charge to advance
After another hold put Kvitova ahead 4-1, she secured a double break lead when Azarenka flew a backhand long. Serving for the match, the world number two was broken after dumping a forehand into the net off of a defensive slice by the Belarussian.
Azarenka held for 5-3 to put the pressure back on Kvitova, who proceeded to drop serve again after missing a routine backhand. She steadied herself to sandwich a hold in between two from the world number 51 as the set went to a tiebreak.
Azarenka won the first point of the breaker before Kvitova reeled off the next five to go up 5-1. At 6-2, she again held match point, but a lucky net cord kept the Belarussian's backhand in before the Czech fired a backhand winner on match point.