Petra Kvitova drew inspiration from her defeat to Serena Williams in Doha last year to overcome the older Williams sister, Venus, in a third set tiebreak yesterday on the very same centre court.
In a match of incredibly high quality shot-making from both, Kvitova edged past Venus 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (9/7) in two hours and 32 minutes to book a last 16 meeting with her fellow Czech Lucie Safarova.
Kvitova, seeded No3 at the Qatar Open, was down 1-4 in the final set, and could have been broken to trail 1-5 but Williams hit a poor drop shot and let a break point chance slip through her hands.
Kvitova then won four games in a row to lead 5-4 and had a match point thanks to a forehand drive winner.
But Williams, who is 10 years older than Kvitova and is currently ranked No48 in the world, fought back from the brink by coming into the net herself and the match eventually went to a tiebreak, just like their clash in the Tokyo semi-finals last September.
The rallies intensified in the breaker and the pair exchanged mini-breaks in the fifth and sixth points to make the score 3-3 at the change of ends.
A remarkable cross court running forehand winner from Kvitova saw her edge ahead 4-3, but the Czech kept getting pegged back by Williams, who saved a second match point with some gutsy play at 5-6.
A clutch down the line forehand from Kvitova helps her save a match point to level for 7-7 and the 23-year-old sealed the victory on a netted forehand from Williams.
“It was in my mind when I played the last time here, Serena, I was leading 4-1 and I lost the match so I said to myself why I can’t turn today for me?” Kvitova said after the match. “The third set was a really big fight and I’m really glad that I came back in the third.”
Williams was disappointed to lose but was happy with the way her game is improving.
“I think that I put myself in a great position to end the match, which for me is the positive that I take out of this match,” said the 33-year-old American. “I feel positive in general about how I'm progressing.”
In her first match since winning the Australian Open, China’s Li Na extended her undefeated run this season by claiming her 13th consecutive victory – a tough 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over Slovakian world No32 Magdalena Rybarikova, in a match that saw a total of 26 break point chances .
Li Na, who will rise to No2 in the world when the new rankings come out on Monday, making her the highest-ranked Asian in the history of the WTA, had lost her only previous meeting to Rybarikova, who defeated the Chinese to win her first career title in Birmingham in 2009.
The top seeded Li Na had a strong start, wrapping up the first set 6-1, hitting 12 winners and saving all three break points she faced. Rybarikova, who played a lengthy three-setter against Francesca Schiavone the previous day, upped her game in the second set, capitalising on her numerous break point opportunities.
Li Na kept falling behind and breaking back but Rybarikova finally took the set when her opponent sent a backhand wide.
The 31-year-old recovered in the final set however and successfully booked herself a spot in the last 16. On getting back on the court for the first time since Melbourne.
Li Na said: “I always like exciting-nervous because the first match is always tough. Also, she had already played one match so she know how the court was playing."
No8 seed Caroline Wozniacki, No12 seed Sam Stosur and No9 Ana Ivanovic all crashed out to Yanina Wickmayer, Jana Cepelova and Klara Zakopalova respectively, which means that nine of the 16 seeds in Doha have been sent packing.
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