Petra Kvitova rallies to avoid Wimbledon exit

MATTIAS KAREN
Last updated 02:21 30/06/2013
Petra Kvitova
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FIGHTING BACK: Petra Kvitova came from 2-1 down in the third set to defeat Ekaterina Makarova when their third round match resumed at Wimbledon.

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Petra Kvitova avoided becoming the latest former champion to be knocked out in the first week at Wimbledon, rallying from a break down in the final set today to beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-3 2-6 6-3 and reach the fourth round.

The match had been halted yesterday with Makarova up 2-1 in the third set, but the eighth-seeded Kvitova broke right back when play resumed and won the next two games as well. After losing her own serve, the Czech player broke again for a 5-3 lead and then converted her third match point with a forehand winner.

"It was another day for me," Kvitova said. "I played really well. I should go for every point and play my game. So I played quite aggressively. That was the key."

Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011 but has struggled to match that performance since and has slipped from second to eighth in the rankings. She has a good chance of reaching her second final at the All England Club, however, having seen second-seeded Victoria Azarenka and former champion Maria Sharapova already eliminated on her side of the draw.

"It's still so far away," Kvitova said. "I'm the highest-ranked player (left) in my half, but there's still a lot of great players over there."

To have a chance at another title, though, Kvitova said her consistency has to improve.

"In 2011 I played really well. I mean, I play my best, for sure. Every shot was going to the court," she said. "It's not the same this year. ... I drop off little bit. It's always little bit up and down, but I hope it will be more up than down."

Sloane Stephens of the US reached Wimbledon's fourth round for the first time, coming back to close out an uneven 7-6 (3) 0-6 6-4 victory over 196th-ranked qualifier Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic in a match suspended the night before because of darkness.

They resumed at the start of the third set, and the 17th-seeded Stephens came out slowly, falling behind 2-0.

But Cetkovska double-faulted three times while letting Stephens take a 4-3 edge. Stephens then held for 5-3, saving a break point with an ace, and later capped the match with a cross-court forehand winner.

Stephens is in the round of 32 for a third consecutive Grand Slam tournament. At the Australian Open in January, she defeated Serena Williams en route to the semifinals.

Later today, top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams were set to play their third-round matches, also looking to avoid upsets after seven-time champion Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were both eliminated early.

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Because of rain over the last two days, Wimbledon organisers were playing a bit of catch-up with the schedule today before tomorrow's rest day.

Among several other matches that had been postponed, No 20 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia beat Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-4 7-5 to set up a fourth-round meeting with second-seeded Andy Murray, who won in straight sets on Friday.

Two more seeded players went out, as No 22 Juan Monaco of Argentina fell 6-4 7-6 (8) 6-4 to Frenchman Kenny De Schepper, while No 26 Benoit Paire of France lost 6-1 6-3 6-4 to Lukasz Kubot of Poland.

As is traditional on the middle Saturday of the tournament, the Royal Box on Centre Court was filled with a number of invited sports stars, this year mainly British gold-medal winners from the London Olympics. Among those getting the biggest ovation from the crowd were cyclists Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton - as well as Murray, who donned a suit and tie to make a brief appearance in the box to celebrate his singles gold medal won on Centre Court.

- AP

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