By Ros Satar, in Stuttgart
- Angelique Kerber  def. Carla Suárez Navarro  6-2 6-4
- Petra Kvitova  def. Garbiñe Muguruza  6-1 3-6 6-0
- Kerber v Kvitova H2H: Kvitova leads 4-3
STUTTGART, GERMANY – Defending champion Angelique Kerber continued her bid to retain her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title with a convincing win over Carla Suárez Navarro in the quarter-final, and will meet Petra Kvitova for a spot in the final.
Angelique Kerber  def. Carla Suárez Navarro  6-2 6-4
From the start of the match, it was clear that Kerber was not hanging around. Swiftly jumping out to a 3-0 lead prompting the Spaniard to have her coach out very early to try and help her find answers.
In the past perhaps the German could be accused of not really having the weapons to finish points off but with a pleasing addition of aggressive play, Kerber kept the points punchy preventing Suárez Navarro from really getting into any kind of rhythm.
The slick surface of Stuttgart can make the first Premier clay court tournament of the season a challenging one, and the Spaniard admitted that she had been more reluctant to get into slides – once you start, you just don’t stop she joked in a round table with the press, but Kerber had the measure of it, also utilising that leftie serve of hers to good effect.
Suárez Navarro seemed to settle down more in the second set, absorbing more pressure from Kerber as the German strived for another early advantage, forcing Suárez Navarro to save three break points, before Kerber finally got her chance to open up a lead.
The Spaniard was not done yet, breaking Kerber at the end of the set, briefly quelling the crowd, but Kerber broke for the match, and is well on the way to doing the double for the first time in her career.
After the match, she said: “I knew that she beat me here two, three years ago. So, I was trying to take revenge (laughs). And I think it was a good match today. But at the end of the second set it was still close and I know that against her I must play until the last ball because she is always tough and she’s fighting as well. So, I went out trying to play good tennis and beat her here.
“This a special week and a special tournament for me. That’s why I will give everything I have and try to play the next match and maybe the second one and of course then try to defend my title.”
Petra Kvitova  def. Garbine Muguruza  6-1 3-6 6-0
Much like her opening match of the tournament, the Czech came out on fire against Muguruza, who had looked the most relaxed of all the competitors here this week. Hitting booming serves and blasting winners from all around the court, there was little that Muguruza could do to stop the onslaught in the first set after winning her first service game.
The Spaniard was able to compete a little better in the second set, and was rewarded with her first break point opportunity of the match – which looked to turn the tide her way, as she went on to make things all square. But momentum was to desert her, as Kvitova roared back, denying the Spaniard even a chance to get on the board. After the match, Muguruza acknowledged that this gave her a good measure of what she needed to do to beat the best.
“I’m pretty happy with the match. I think Petra played very well, especially she served very well and I guess her shots were there. It was difficult for me to kind of play because she was hitting so hard. I think today she had a good breakfast (laughs).
“I wasn’t playing bad, you know, I was like running and trying to fight for every point but she was coming with great shots. And the third set, in important moments, she went for the shots and she found them. And then, I was like, I’m playing good and it’s like 3-0, 4-0, 5-0. So, I know with this kind of players, with Petra if she’s playing good, she hits everything.”
Angelique Kerber  v Petra Kvitova  – H2H: Kvitova leads 4-3
We might go out on a limb and say this is going to be the pick of the semi-finals. Two lefties doing battle, and with a newly aggressive Kerber looking to inject some changes to her game, we could be in for a thriller. Kerber has one win against her on the clay, but it is the slower dirt in Rome and after Kvitova’s quarter-final, the Czech admitted that this was like no other clay and that it suited the more aggressive players. The Kerber of ‘old’ would have excelled on the slower heavy ‘terre-battue’ so this could well be a leveler.
If Kvitova comes out serving as she did in her first match and on Friday, she could well give herself a strong advantage, especially being a match up on Kerber, who had a bye into the second round. But Kerber seems to genuinely be learning all the time how to deal with the pressure of being the home-town favourite, the expectations on her especially now she is a Slam champion.
“They really give me the energy, that I go out there and I feel the support. It’s an amazing crowd out there. I mean it was full house today and this is for what I’m playing, to go out there and play in front of all the fans and it’s always a great feeling. So, I don’t feel the pressure.”
She is under no illusions that a peak Kvitova will be looking to impose her game on the German, and even though she has introduced more aggressiveness, she is determined not to lose her strength of playing great defensive tennis.
“I think the rallies will be a little bit shorter than normal but I know that I just must focus on me, just go for it and not think too much about where I will play. Right now I feel I’m in the middle that I know when I should go for it or when it is better to go a little bit back and just run a little bit. So I think I’m really focusing on my game and I feel when the time is [right] to go for it.”
Of course the battle of the lefties will throw up all kinds of challenges, but maybe Kvitova feels ready for the challenge, having reached her first semi-final here since her debut in 2012, where she lost to Maria Sharapova.
She said: “I know how dangerous she is. Definitely she’s playing good game right now as well. It will be good challenge to play again. I’m glad I am in semi-final, I have had three matches and I think that can help me with the confidence and with the feeling of the balls and everything. Lefties will be different for sure, but I used to it practicing with Lucie or playing Angie or [Ekaterina] Makarova in Miami, so I think there will be not the problem.”
Prediction: Kerber in three sets.
Kerber and Kvitova are scheduled on Centre Court, at 1:30pm (12:30pm BST).
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