MONTREAL, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Former Wimbledon champion Petra
Kvitova returned to her best on Friday during a Montreal Cup
that has been dogged by rain and the withdrawal of world number
one Victoria Azarenka.
Kvitova, who also won the WTA Championships last October, is
without a title this year but her 6-1 6-1 thrashing of
ninth-seed Marion Bartoli showed she will be difficult to beat.
Bartoli said Kvitova was almost impossible to defeat when
she played at her peak and rated her a harder opponent than
either 14-times grand slam winner Serena Williams or world
number two Maria Sharapova when in form.
"“She takes away from you the control of the match," Bartoli
told reporters. "“I never felt like this against Serena or
Sharapova. When I was serving well, she returned a missile."
Aiding the cause of Kvitova, who will play Tamira Paszek in
the quarter-finals of the $2 million tournament, was Friday's
withdrawal of Azarenka with a knee injury.
Azarenka, who would lose her top ranking should Poland's
Agnieszka Radwanska win here, also withdrew from the next week's
Cincinnati Open next week but hopes to be fit for the Aug.
27-Sept. 9 U.S. Open, the year's final major.
"“I hope it's a short-term thing. I have to just stop and
take a little bit of time off because I had absolutely no rest
for a long period of time," she said.
“"If I cannot play here, there is no chance for me to play
anywhere else. My first goal is to get healthy and make sure I'm
100 percent ready to play the U.S. Open."
The Belarusian's withdrawal came two days after Sharapova
pulled out due to a stomach virus that will also prevent her
from playing in Cincinnati.
Also assisting the Montreal hopes of Kvitova and Radwanska,
whose Friday match against Chanelle Scheepers is in doubt due to
rain that has again postponed play, is the exit of last year's
finalist, Australian Sam Stosur.
U.S. Open champion Stosur lost her third-round clash with
16th seed Lucie Safarova 7-6 7-6 after wasting several chances.
Earlier on Friday, sixth seed Angelique Kerber and seventh
seed Caroline Wozniacki were successful in matches interrupted
by rain on Thursday.
Aleksandra Wozniak, on the verge of becoming the first
Canadian women to reach the quarter-finals of this event since
1992, led Christina McHale 7-6 5-2 when rain halted play.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)