By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – Petra Kvitova’s decision to give her shoes an almighty whack with her racket turned out to be a masterstroke as the Czech’s legs finally started to move more freely, and she eked out a 7-5 6-2 win over Kristina Mladenovic at Wimbledon on Thursday.
The sixth seed did not exactly enjoy the most promising of starts – she was broken in the opening game and fell 5-3 behind when she squandered three break points in the eighth game.
She took out her frustrations on her personalized shoes, giving one of them such a powerful blow with her racket frame that it briefly left her grimacing — and that proved to be Frenchwoman Mladenovic’s undoing.
Two games later, Kvitova saved three set points to level for 5-5 and it was a setback Mladenovic could not recover from.
The 2011 and 2014 champion, who was still sporting a bandage around her left elbow after missing the French Open with an arm injury, was swinging more freely from then on as she won 10 of the last 12 games to book a place in the third round for the first time since 2015.
Kvitova will next face either Poland’s Magda Linette or 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova.
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond)