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Petra Kvitova vs Catherine Bellis Bank of the West Classic tennis live: Kvitova aims for first WTA Stanford semifinal appearance

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 4 Aug 2017
  • Petra Kvitova faces Catherine Bellis in the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic on Friday
  • Kvitova vs Bellis Bank of the West Classic tennis is live from Stanford at 7pm local/3am BST
Petra Kvitova

After a winning debut at the Bank of the West Classic, Petra Kvitova faces promising 18-year-old Catherine Bellis in Friday’s WTA Stanford quarterfinals.

Playing in Stanford for the first time, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova looks to build on a fairly flawless start as she takes on rising American teenager Catherine Cartan ‘CiCi’ Bellis for a place in the Bank of the West Classic semifinals.

Although the Bank of the West Classic is only the fourth event Kvitova has played in 2017, missing as she did the first six months of the season as she recuperated from the knife wounds she received to her left hand in December, the Czech is already in her second Premier-level quarterfinal of the season, having won the Aegon Classic in Birmingham in impressive style with victories over Lucie Safarova, Kristina Mladenovic and Ashleigh Barty.

Kvitova was quite frank in discussing the emotional toll her return to Wimbledon took on her and the way her body reacted as she fell in the second round to Madison Brengle, a player who’s beaten her before, and it’s plain that Kvitova just wants to get back to normal as much as possible – hence the decision to play Stanford, a tournament she’s always skipped before. American hard courts have never been Kvitova’s best surface, although she did win the Rogers Cup in 2012 and made the US Open quarterfinals last year, and she doesn’t perform well in the kind of stifling heat and humidity that characterizes this time of the season, but the quick courts at the Bank of the West Classic should suit her and she was untroubled in an opening win over Kateryna Bondarenko on Thursday.

Bondarenko a former US Open quarterfinalist, had beaten Kvitova twice but both matches came some years ago and the Ukrainian player struggled to make much of an impression on Thursday, double-faulting twice to be broken in a dreadful opening service game and never really finding her feet. Kvitova served beautifully and dominated the match more or less effortlessly, hitting 31 winners and 10 unforced errors as she won 6-2, 6-2 in exactly an hour.

‘It’s nice to play somewhere for the first time after so many years on the tour,’ Kvitova said afterwards.

‘I served very well, and I was just trying to play my game - which I always try, and sometimes that works, sometimes not. Kateryna is a dangerous player; she can catch lots of balls and I knew that I had to be focused and just play aggressive.’

Bank of the West Classic 2017 live stream: WTA tennis live from Stanford

All in all it was a fairly ideal start to Kvitova’s Stanford campaign, but it will only get tougher as she faces Catherine Cartan Bellis in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Bellis, also known as ‘CiCi’, is still just 18 years old but it was already three years ago that she first burst on to the scene, with a victory over 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the US Open. 

Limited in how many tournaments she could play, Bellis nevertheless continued to rise in 2015 when she won an ITF $25k in Rancho Santa Fe and made the third round of Miami as a wildcard, and in 2016 played her first more-or-less full season, having decided to go pro rather than go the route of playing college tennis. It paid off, as Bellis broke into the top 100 by the end of the year, compiling a 47-16 win-loss record which included three ITF titles, a WTA 125k win in Honolulu, reaching the third round of the US Open as a qualifier and two WTA Tour quarterfinal appearances, one in Quebec City and one in Stanford where she beat Jelena Ostapenko and Sachia Vickery before losing to Venus Williams.

Bellis didn’t play in January and missed the Australian Open, but started her year in fine style by making the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, beating Agnieszka Radwanska on the way. She also made the quarterfinals on clay in Rabat and reached the third round of Roland Garros, beating last year’s semifinalist Kiki Bertens on the way. Her first WTA semifinal of 2017 came on grass in Mallorca, a run which pushed her up to a career-high ranking of world no. 40, and she impressed by taking the first set against Victoria Azarenka in the first round of Wimbledon, although she ultimately lost in three to the returning world no. 1. 

Playing Stanford for the third time, Bellis opened with a win over the experienced Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-2 and survived an attempted comeback by qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg to close that one out in straight sets 7-6 (3), 6-2 to make her second straight quarterfinal at a tournament that’s so close to her home. 

Kvitova and Bellis have never met, but it’s certainly an intriguing encounter in prospect. Bellis has a lot of physical maturing to do, but she’s got a great head on her shoulders and a game that belies her years. She has a good record against left-handers, and she’s got a top-10 win under her belt (over Radwanska in Dubai) but she won’t ever have faced anyone quite like Kvitova, with her game of staccato, lefty power and ability to take the racquet completely out of her opponent’s hands. If Kvitova produces a good serving performance like she did against Bondarenko, Bellis might find that there’s not much she can do; on the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine that Kvitova, having played so little tennis this year, won’t have a lapse at some point. Bellis is very much on home turf in Stanford, but I still think Kvitova will have a little too much for the teenager to handle at this point in her career and should come through to the semifinals at the Bank of the West Classic. 

Kvitova vs Bellis is scheduled on Stadium Court in Stanford on Friday at 7pm local/3am BST

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Petra Kvitova vs Catherine Bellis Bank of the West Classic tennis live: Kvitova aims for first WTA Stanford semifinal appearance

Petra Kvitova looks to make second Premier semifinal of 2017 but will face a tough challenge from 18-year-old Catherine Bellis: Bank of the West Classic tennis live from Stanford

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