PARIS (Reuters) - Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova, not a natural mover on clay, dug deep to reach the French Open second round by laboring to a 6-4 3-6 6-4 win over New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic on Tuesday.
The double Wimbledon champion looked nothing like the player who defeated world number one Serena Williams en route to the Madrid Open claycourt title earlier this month as she put in a shaky performance on court Philippe Chatrier.
Kvitova was under early pressure, facing four break points in her first three service games with Erakovic grabbing the last one to go 3-2 up when the Czech double faulted.
Kvitova, however, broke back by converting her first break point in the eighth game as Erakovic sent a forehand just wide and the Czech went on to take the set on her opponent’s serve.
Erakovic did not let go though, breaking in the first game of the second set as Kvitova’s string of unforced errors continued, and the Kiwi followed up with another break.
Kvitova pulled one break back but dropped serve again as Erakovic leveled the contest. Even though the New Zealander broke twice in the decider, she could only hold serve once, bowing out with a forehand into the net.
“I have to say the conditions weren’t really easy for me. I think it was quite cold and the balls are really heavy, and they didn’t really fly,” said Kvitova, who will next take on Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain.
”For me it was really difficult to go for the shots. It was tough to make any winners or, you know, ace from the serve or something like that.
“It was very difficult today. It was quite a long match, big fight. Sometimes I couldn’t win my serve. So it was a little bit difficult. But that’s how it is in the first round of grand slams.”
Her best result at Roland Garros is a semi-final in 2012.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris