Friday in New York, the day before Labor Day weekend, is a frenetic time as many take off for their last break of the summer and many head for the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the US Open.
Meanwhile, five women still remain in contention for the No 1 ranking as the US Open’s third round began, and Venus Williams and Garbiñe Muguruza were among them trying to reach the fourth round by winning on Friday.
She can be tricky. It means a lot to be back playing on a big stage,I don’t care who I play next! Petra Kvitova
Two of the others, current No 1 Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, will play Saturday while the fifth, Simona Halep, lost in the first round to Maria Sharapova.
On Day 5 the remaining top women also had one eye on getting into the second week of play as well as a wary eye on their opponents.
Petra Kvitova is just happy to be in New York, after the horrendous knife attack and injury to her left hand in December, and feeling happy to have made it to the third round when it could well have been the end of her career.
First out onto Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 13th seed from the Czech Republic took on Caroline Garcia, the 18th seed, and she was out of the blocks so far, it left the Frenchwoman looking somewhat dazed.
After just 25 minutes, the first set was in the bag, 6-0, before Garcia was able to secure a game.
“Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it hurts a bit more, but in general I feel fine.” she had said about her racket hand that had endured a four-hour operation on the tendons to repair after the brutal attack and still has yet to recover full feeling.
Kvitova’s grasp on proceedings loosened slightly at the start of the second, as Garcia found her range and held her service games to go up 2-1 and then, again, for 3-2, gradually getting into the contest.
In the seventh game, Kvitova had three break points and had her first drive called out.
Had she challenged, it would’ve have shown in but the Czech had squandered two early on in the first game and passed.
The next two break points, Garcia saved with a beautiful, curved forehand pass and an ace.
A netted backhand by Kvitova lost a fourth but she eventually broke on her fifth attempt to go up 4-3.
Kvitova made no mistake, holding to 15 and going up 5-3, leaving Garcia to hold to stay in the match.
The Frenchwoman went 40-15 up, only to be pegged back to deuce by a let cord pass and a mishit.
The Czech seized the chance to secure her first match point but Garcia saved it with a superb backhand down the line.
Again Kvitova attacked the second serve and defended well to force an eventual error to bring up a second match point.
A second serve again offered chances but the Frenchwoman found a space for a forehand winner.
Garcia held for 4-5 after some stunning shot making, finalised by a winning forehand pass forcing Kvitova to serve for the match.
Yet to create a break point opportunity, Garcia needed to impact the Kvitova serve before it was too late but she could little against an ace and then threw up a desperate lob on a second delivery that the Czech put wide.
Kvitova found her first serve to go up 30-15 and a netted backhand by Garcia offered up two further match points.
She needed just a final ace for the win in 1 hour and 13 minutes, 6-0 6-4.
“She can be tricky. It means a lot to be back playing on a big stage,” Kvitova told the crowd with a smile. “I don’t care who I play next!”
She really doesn’t. It’s just great to be in the fourth round in the Big Apple.