Madrid: Holder Petra Kvitova blunted a late attack from France’s Kristina Mladenovic to advance 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) into the third round of the Madrid Open on Tuesday.
The Czech second seed, chasing a fourth title on the Caja Magica clay, has now won her last five matches over qualifier Mladenovic in straight sets.
“It was a pretty difficult match. I fought hard in the end and that’s what counts,” the winner said,
“The clay conditions here are a bit different compared to other venues, so I needed time to fight it out,” she added.
Kvitova took the opening set on a break and started the second set with another. But Mladenovic broke back for 3-all and eventually forced the contest to a tiebreaker, which Kvitova captured.
“I had to fight, but I’m glad that I had this (kind of) match. Hopefully, it’s given me a bit more freedom for the next round,” last month’s Stuttgart clay winner said.
Sloane Stephens beat former world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to equal her best showing at the event, defeating the two-time Australian Open winner for the fourth consecutive time.
Belarusian Azarenka committed nine double-faults in going down to the American eighth seed.
“I was taking control from the baseline points, I was doing the right things,” Azarenka said.
“I was playing smart tennis. But I didn’t create anything with my serve today and it was really frustrating. I didn’t really have a game plan, that’s something I need to take a look at and fix. I need to make it more simple and just do the right things,” she added.