Australian Open

Kvitova stays on track

2015-01-20 08:46
Petra Kvitova (AFP)

Melbourne - Fourth seed Petra Kvitova ground out a straight sets win over Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp on Tuesday to reach the Australian Open second round, admitting nerves affected her performance.

The Czech Wimbledon champion looked to be cruising to a easy victory but made hard work of the second set to eventually down Hogenkamp 6-1, 6-4.

Kvitova was sensationally dumped out of last year's event in the opening round and said bad memories returned to haunt her as world number 138 Hogenkamp fought her way back into the match.

"I didn't have nice memories from last year when I lost my first round, so I'm happy I won today," the 24-year-old said.

"I'd never played my opponent and I'm just pleased to win."

Kvitova said the pressure was on to perform after winning her second Wimbledon title last year but there were no easy victories in a Grand Slam.

"That's why I have nerves, because I won Wimbledon," she said. "It's never easy to be the favourite on the court with everyone expecting that you're going to win easily."

She enjoyed a strong lead-up to the Melbourne tournament, winning the Sydney International, and expected the nerves to ease in the second round, when she will play either Donna Vedic of Croatia or Germany's Mona Barthel.

"(Sydney) was geat fun," she said, "I'm very pleased with how I played, it's helpful to have a few wins under your belt before the Grand Slam begins."

Kvitova has a patchy history in Melbourne, making the quarter-finals in 2011 and the semis a year later but failing to advance beyond the second round in her four other appearances at the season-opening Grand Slam.

But 2014 champion Li Na of China, who will not defend her Australian Open crown after retiring in September, has declared the Czech is the player to beat at this year's tournament.

She lived up to the billing in the early stages of her clash against Hogenkamp and will need to produce similar form to advance deep into this year's event.

Read more on:    australian open  |  petra kvitova  |  tennis
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