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Kvitova vs Vekic WTA St. Petersburg Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: In-form Kvitova targets third consecutive semi-final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 31 Jan 2019
  • Petra Kvitova vs Donna Vekic is live from St. Petersburg on Friday, 1 February from 2:30pm local time/ 11:30am GMT
  • Kvitova defeated Vekic in their only previous meeting in Miami in 2014
Petra Kvitova. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

World No. 2, Petra Kvitova continues her St. Petersburg title defence on Friday when she takes on Croatian eighth seed, Donna Vekic in the quarter finals.

In-form Kvitova is seeking her third consecutive semi-final, having made the last four in Sydney (where she won the title) and the Australian Open (where she finished runner-up to Naomi Osaka).

Kvitova is also looking to win her seventh straight match in St. Petersburg, following last year's title run, and her opening round victory over Victoria Azarenka.

Just four days after falling to Osaka in the Australian Open final, Kvitova was back in action on Wednesday, taking on former world No. 1 and longtime rival, Victoria Azarenka in the opening round of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. A tight beginning featured four consecutive breaks, but Kvitova pulled away from 2-2, winning four games in a row to take the first set, and then opening up a 5-1 lead in the second set, earning the chance to serve for the match. However, with the finish line in sight, the Czech faltered. Kvitova sent down a double fault on match point, and Azarenka made the most of that opening, winning four straight games to restore parity. Kvitova lost her serve in the opening point of the ensuing tie break, but the top seed rebounded strongly, winning the next five points to seize control, and closing out the match on her third match point.

“I’ve just come from Melbourne, I’ve just hit for the first time today at my warm-up and played the match today,” Kvitova said after the match. “I think I played it very well, it’s important. I’m very happy to be here".

Kvitova was rewarded for her extra aggression, as she hit almost three times as many winners as Azarenka- 40 to 14, while she served at a healthy 75% for the match, winning 67% of first serve points. She struggled badly on second serves though, as she was restricted to just 3 of 18 points on her second serve. The Czech was also very aggressive on Azarenka's second serve, winning 73% of points on that delivery as she recorded a fifth victory in eight matches against her Belarusian rival.

Her next task is to take down Donna Vekic, who is attempting to make her second semi-final in 2019.

Vekic came from a set down to beat Timea Bacsinszky in the first round, before easing out Russian lucky loser, Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 6-3 in the second round. 

Donna Vekic. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
It was a strong serving performance from Vekic against Kudermetova, as she dropped only nine points on serve, winning 85% of points on her first serve, and 69% on her second. The Croatian got broken just once- when she served for the match at 6-4 5-2, but she responded with the match-winning break in the next game, sealing the win after an hour and 16 minutes.

Apart from a shock second round loss to Australian wildcard, Kimberly Birrell at the Australian Open, Vekic has been good this year, reaching the semi-finals in her opening tournament of the season in Brisbane, where she beat Magdalena Rybarikova, Kiki Bertens and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and now progressing to the quarter finals in St. Petersburg. 

Still only 22, she still has plenty of time to fulfill the potentials she showed when she first broke into the scene as a teenager. She was into the top 70 before her 17th birthday, and claimed her first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur before she turned 18. Her progress generally stalled after that as she ended 2015 and 2016 outside the top 100, but there have been signs in the last couple of seasons that the Croatian may finally be ready to take her place in the top echelon of the women's game. Vekic moved into the top 50 for the first time in 2017- the year she claimed her second WTA title in Nottingham; cracked the top 40 last season, and has already reached a career-high 29th this year. Can she build on her encouraging start by ending the reign of Kvitova in St. Petersburg on Friday?

Vekic boasts six top-ten wins, four of which have come since the start of 2018, but she lost her only previous meeting against Kvitova in Miami in 2014. She was pretty good as a teenager, but she is certainly a better player now than she was back then, and should give Kvitova a good run for her money. The key for the eight seed is to serve well, and she can build the rest of her game around that.

That said, Kvitova has been playing at a consistently high level this year, and if she keeps up that form, she will once again be too good for Vekic.

Petra Kvitova vs Donna Vekic is live from St. Petersburg on Friday, 1 February from 2:30pm local time/ 11:30am GMT

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Kvitova vs Vekic WTA St. Petersburg Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: In-form Kvitova targets third consecutive semi-final

Petra Kvitova attempts to reach her third straight semi-final when she takes on Donna Vekic in St. Petersburg on Friday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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