WUHAN - Angelique Kerber suffered her first loss as world No. 1 on Wednesday, falling at the hands of Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at the Wuhan Open.
In a titanic battle of solid baseliners lasting 3 hr 19 mins, it was Kvitova who prevailed at the end, overcoming cramps to record a 6-7 (10-12), 7-5, 6-4 victory over the 28-year-old German in their round-of-16 match.
There was little separating the two players, both of whom are two-time Grand Slam winners. The duel became a slugfest of long rallies which often left both hard hitting left-handers gasping for breath in between the points.
After Kvitova, the world No. 16, blew her first match point while she was leading 5-3 on Kerber's serve, the tall Czech squandered another three consecutive match points when she was 40-0 up in the next game.
Even though she was cramping up, the gutsy 26-year-old dug deep to score her first win over her rival in four matches and level their head-to-head at five wins each. Kvitova last beat Kerber in the Fed Cup final in 2014.
Kerber, who has the most match-wins (55) among the players this year, said after the match: "I did everything I could today, I was fighting until the end. We played a high-level match for over three hours, and the match was just decided in one or two points in the end.
"There's no loser. Both of us played consistently throughout the match. She was going for it, and she served well in the important moments. She deserved (the win) in the end.
"When I sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow, I can go with positive emotions to Beijing."
Kerber's next tournament will be the China Open in Beijing next week.