WIMBLEDON, England -- Rising American star Sloane Stephens and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova learned Saturday that patience can pay off.
Stephens, seeded No. 17, had to wait overnight because her third-round match against Petra Cetkovska was suspended because of darkness Friday after Stephens took the first set, 7-6 (3), and Cetkovska steamrolled through the second set, 6-0.
Their final set took some strange turns Saturday as Cetkovska opened a 2-0 lead only to double-fault three times and let Stephens take the lead on her way to winning the third set, 6-4. That advanced Stephens into the fourth round here for the first time.
Stephens said she had been in a similar holding pattern only a few times before and that it felt “weird” to know she’d have to play only one set on Saturday, a feeling that was soon replaced by joy.
“I’m excited about being in the second week again,” said Stephens, who defeated World No. 1 Serena Williams at the quarterfinals of the Australian Open earlier this year. “I’m playing well, feeling good.”
Her next opponent will be Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who defeated Eva Birnerova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Puig and Stephens both live in Florida and briefly attended the same tennis academy. Stephens, who also spends part of her year in Los Angeles, said she knows Puig well and recalled them facing each other in a junior competition but they don't socialize. “We’re not like besties,” she said.
Kvitova, seeded No. 8, also had to wait overnight after she and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia split the first two sets in their third-round match. Makarova led the third set, 2-1, in a meeting of tall, left-handed, ponytailed blondes, but Kvitova rallied for a 6-3 win in the final set.
Kvitova said it’s difficult to compare her play this year to her championship play here two years ago.
“I’m not a person who likes to compare some years,” she said. “Of course, 2011 I played really well. I play my best, for sure. Every shot was going to the court.
“It’s not the same this year. I have some good things in my game what really seems like 2011. But I drop off a little bit. It’s always a little bit up and down, but I hope it will be more up than down.”
Eighteen-year-old Madison Keys of the U.S. tested 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland before a smooth and strong Radwanska prevailed, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Keys saved four match points in the eighth game of the third set but the more experienced Radwanska covered the court well and won the match on her serve. Keys had 15 aces but also committed 51 unforced errors.
In keeping with the upsets that dominated the early rounds, a few more top-seeded players lost Saturday.
Bernard Tomic of Australia, ranked 59th in the world, defeated No. 9 Richard Gasquet of France, 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6. Tomic made it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals two years ago at age 18 but has struggled since then.
Lukasz Kubot of Poland, ranked 130th in the world, celebrated his upset of No. 25 Benoit Paire of France with a celebratory dance of can-can kicks. Kubot prevailed, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4, and began to walk off the court but reversed course to do a few high kicks, a routine he has done before and one that delighed the crowd at Court 18.
Kubot will next face 111th-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France in the fourth round, an unusual circumstance that is an offshoot of the many upsets in the men’s draw this year.
No. 12 Kei Nishikori of Japan was upended by No. 23 Andreas Seppi of Italy, Seppi’s first time in the round of 16 in nine tries. Seppi rallied for the 3-6, 6-2, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory while 20th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Viktor Troicki of Serbia.
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