BIRMINGHAM, UK – Defending champion, and of course two-time Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova admitted she feels no pressure to defend the title at the Nature Valley Classic.
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Petra Kvitova  def. Daria Gavrilova 6-2 6-2
On a day that made a pleasant change from the clouds of the last two days, the wind did its best to discombobulate the players as defending champion Petra Kvitova took on Daria Gavrilova.
The conditions gave them both troubles bit it was Kvitova who struck first to jump out to as 4-0. Although Gavrilova got one of the breaks back, she was broken to love at the end of the set as Kvitova took the lead.
Things were a little more competitive from the Aussie before Kvitova broke twice at the end of the set for a second straight quarter-final in Birmingham.
In her pre-tournament press conference, Kvitova talked about the difference in approach, from having won in just her second tournament back since the knife attack at the end of 2016 that almost ended her career, and now.
She said: “This time it’s different than compared to last time. You know last time I was really just enjoying being on the grass playing tennis. I [wasn’t] really thinking about anything else so it was just the pure happiness.
“This time it’s a little bit different of course. I mean the pressure is there, I played well so far this season so far, so of course the expectation is a little bit different but I’m still thinking like it’s a good preparation for ‘Wimby’, it’s great to be on the grass again.”
As she coasted into her second straight quarter-final there is a sense she is still just treating it as a preparation run for the big one at SW19.
“I always feel kind of happiness when I’m playing on the grass actually. I do feel it here as well. Probably I thought I’m going to feel some pressure to defend the title, but I don’t. It’s kind of nice to have those feels and be more relaxed, which I do not expect. So probably that’s why I’m kind of not really stressing too much about match.
“Probably the mind-set is just a little bit different. I’m taking it kind of not like a practice, but to see what I can improve and what’s, like, is working already. That’s probably how I’m, like, thinking on the court right now.”
She will face Germany’s Julia Goerges, who eased past Nottingham champion Ashleigh Barty 7-6(6) 6-3. Kvitova is on the winning end of a five-match streak against the German, who only broke her own five-year (yes, year) losing streak on grass last year in Mallorca.
Kvitova said: “I played Julia a couple times this year, but not on grass, probably never on grass. It’s probably not really her favourite surface. But with a big serve and big forehand, she can really play on the grass, but we’ll see.”
Kvitova and Goerges are scheduled on the Ann Jones Centre Court, not before 2:30pm BST.
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