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By Adrianna Outlaw | Friday, February 2, 2018

Give Petra Kvitova an hour and she can create brilliance.

In a battle of Grand Slam champions, Kvitova charged through the first seven games demolishing Jelena Ostapenko, 6-0, 6-2, in 57 minutes to roll into the St. Petersburg semifinals.

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The two-time Wimbledon winner denied a pair of break points in the opening game.

Once Kvitova withstood that challenge, she cranked up the pace and depth of her drives completely outclassing the reigning Roland Garros champion.

"It was just about a few games I was serving, especially the first game of the match when I was facing two break points," Kvitova said. "At the end of the second set, a lot of deuces. I served pretty well today. I’m really happy I was able to keep my serve and wasn’t broken so it was great."

Dialed in on both her serve and return, Kvitova did not drop serve in the match, permitted only three points on her first serve and converted all five break points she earned.

Cruising through her service games in the second set, Kvitova held at love for 3-2. Ostapenko sailed a second serve long as Kvitova broke at 15 for 4-2—her fourth break of the match.

A dour Ostapenko barked at her box in frustration, but could not solve the powerful Czech, who won 16 of the last 20 points of the match.

Tested in the seventh game, Kvitova worked through a challenging hold hooking the slider serve out wide to confirm the break for 5-2. Kvitova cranked a crosscourt backhand return winner sealing an overwhelming performance in 57 minutes.

The 27-year-old Czech powered into her first semifinal since Beijing last October.

Kvitova will face Julia Goerges for a place in the final.

The fifth-seeded German ended the inspired run of 18-year-old Russian qualifier Elena Rybakina, 6-3, 6-3.

“She’s a big hitter, and she hit some very big shots," Goerges said of her opponent, who knocked off Timea Bacsinszky and third-seeded Caroline Garcia en route to her first WTA quarterfinal. "I had to make sure that I moved very well, and neutralized them, and tried to be aggressive as well. I think, after a little bit of a slow start and a very good [start] from her, I got better into the match.”



It is Goerges’ 18th victory in her last 19 matches, including her victory over then world No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki in the Auckland final last month.

Continuing her quest for her fourth title in her last five tournaments, Goerges can expect a match of first-strike tennis against Kvitova.

The left-handed Kvitova has won two of three prior meetings with Goerges in grueling three-set victories. The pair have not faced off since the 2013 Stuttgart tournament and have not met in a WTA hard-court event in eight years.

“I think every match is tough, and it doesn’t matter who you’re going to face, but I’ll just try to do my best," Goerges said. "That’s all I can control, and what I’m going to do, and hopefully it will be a good one.”

The 12th-ranked German could crack the Top 10 for the first time depending on her semifinal results and the performance of defending champion Kristina Mladenovic.

Empowered by her Australian Open doubles triumph with partner Timea Babos, Mladenovic smacked seven aces dispatching Katerina Siniakova, 6-4, 6-3, in 78 minutes.



Mladenovic, who arrived in St. Petersburg on a 15-match singles losing streak dating back to Washington, DC last summer, extended her St. Petersburg winning streak to seven matches.

“I thought it was a very good match," said Mladenovic, who avenged a straight-sets loss to Siniakova in Wuhan last fall. "I think she’s a very good mover, and I think the first set was such high quality on the serve, from both of us. It was very difficult to have opportunities to break each other.”

The fourth-seeded Frenchwoman will try to extend her St. Petersburg winning streak against 20-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina.

The 23rd-ranked Kasatkina suprised world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 7-6 (2), 6-3, to reach the St. Petersburg semifinals for the second time in three years.

"I’m just very happy with the intensity I put in again today," Mladenovic said. "She has such great form since the beginning of the season, and she’s a tough opponent, so I’m very happy to be back in the semifinal here.”


 

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