Kvitova taking one match at a time
Czech comeback queen banks on relaxed approach after upset win over third seed Muguruza
After a five-month injury layoff, Petra Kvitova is taking a relaxed approach to the US Open and it paid off yesterday morning (Singapore time) when the Czech upset pre-tournament favourite Garbine Muguruza to reach the quarter-finals.
Kvitova, 27, suffered a career-threatening injury to her left playing hand when an intruder stabbed her at her home last December, but she has been recovering faster than expected.
Seeded 13th at Flushing Meadows, Kvitova went through the early rounds without dropping a set, but yesterday morning's challenge at the Arthur Ashe Stadium was supposed to be trickier as she was facing third seed Muguruza.
Kvitova fell 4-1 behind at the start, but the two-time Wimbledon champion, who made her comeback at the French Open in May, then won 12 of the 17 remaining games to prevail 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
It was her first win at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I should change my perspective about it. Maybe that's why I didn't ever have any expectation to play well here," said Kvitova.
"That's why probably I am playing more relaxed and more free, maybe.
"I'm always putting a little bit of pressure on myself at Wimbledon because of the titles, I do have them. But I'm trying to find a rhythm at the US Open.
"I'm not going on-site on my day off. I'm staying by Central Park which is pretty relaxed."
Muguruza found Kvitova's form astonishing considering what she has been through.
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"I think it's incredible that she's playing at this level," said the Spaniard. "I think she's playing very well. So I don't feel she has changed.
"She's one of the biggest hitters and a talented player.
"She has a great timing and a lot of power."
Kvitova is playing only her eighth event of the year after recovering from the assault last December that is still under investigation by Czech police.
"Especially after everything that happened, I do feel little bit pumped," Kvitova said.
"I don't really have the best ranking but, on the other hand, I know I can play well, which I showed today.
"I worked hard to come back and be here. It means a lot."
Kvitova admitted that her hand is not yet fully healed, but it's good enough for her to produce formidable performances.
"I think still my hand is not 100 per cent ready, so I do feel I have space to improve," Kvitova said.
"I'm still working on the strength. I'm really not thinking about it when I'm playing much.
"I'm just taking (it) how it is.
"Movement is still not great but, for the grip of the tennis racket, it is so far okay."
Kvitova will next face local favourite Venus Williams, who has a 1-4 record against the Czech.
"What she has gone through is unimaginable, unreasonable," Williams said.
"The world we live in is just shocking.
"So for her, I think to be playing well is such a blessing.
"To be able to come out here and do what she needs to do, to clear her head, it's such a beautiful thing to see.
"What else can I say except I'm glad to see her back?"
Kvitova is relishing the challenge of facing the ninth seed who this season reached her first two Grand Slam finals since 2009 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
"I think that she's playing amazing on the Majors this year. I mean, she is really playing very, very well on the big stages," said Kvitova.
"She played the final of Wimbledon. She's a champion. It's what we all know.
"It will be a great match for me to step on Ashe again probably and play there. We always had tough battles.
"I will try my best. I mean, she has a big serve.
"She has something special which the other players don't have.
"That's what I will try to play again probably, similar game as today." - WIRE SERVICES
MEN'S SINGLES 4TH RD
- Pablo Carreno-Busta (x12) bt Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3)
- Diego Schwartzman (x29) bt Lucas Pouille (x16) 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 2-6, 6-2
- Sam Querrey (x17) bt Mischa Zverev (x23) 6-2, 6-2, 6-1
- Kevin Anderson (x28) bt Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4
WOMEN'S SINGLES 4TH RD
- Petra Kvitova (x13) bt Garbine Muguruza (x3) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3
- Venus Williams (x9) bt Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
- Anastasija Sevastova (x16) bt Maria Sharapova 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
- Sloane Stephens bt Julia Goerges (x30) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1