Sydney: Petra falls in 2nd round

In a bruising encounter between two of the WTA’s hardest hitters, Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi ousted 2015 Sydney International champion Petra Kvitova, 7-6(7), 6-2, to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2018 edition of the tournament.

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The opening stanzas of the match went easily with serve, as both players were handling their delivery exceptionally well, and barely losing points when they stepped to the line. Only seven points were won by the returner in the first seven games.

Kvitova was the first to wobble serving down 3-4, as Giorgi started to hit absurdly strong and effective returns, and focused on breaking down the Czech’s backhand as best as she could. Nevertheless, Kvitova was able to survive four break points to hold for 4-4.

The Czech former World No.2 faced an even more precarious service game in her next go, as Giorgi continued to take extreme risks on her return of serve. One such return clipped the net and barely dribbled over to give Giorgi her first set point. After it was saved, Kvitova hit her first two double faults of the match to give Giorgi two more set points, but those were fended off as well. Kvitova finally held for 5-5 after an eight-minute game.

After failing to convert any of her seven break points, Giorgi cracked at 5-5. An overrule on the baseline by chair umpire Aurelie Tourte rattled Giorgi, and she lost two straight points after that to give Kvitova a 6-5 lead on the Czech’s first break opportunity of the match.

Suddenly, Kvitova was serving for the set. But she could not close out the opener, hitting her third double fault in two games, and then being unable to successfully respond to a powerful Giorgi backhand when down break point.

The players moved into the tiebreak, and Giorgi took an early 3-1 lead. Two unreturnable serves by Kvitova, however, put her in front at 4-3. After repelling three set points earlier in the set, Kvitova finally reached her own set point at 6-5. Giorgi was unfazed, and hit a fine serve that Kvitova could not return into play, which deadlocked the tiebreak at 6-6.

A forehand winner by Kvitova saved a fourth Giorgi set point to level the breaker at 7-7, but Giorgi claimed the crucial mini-break on the next point by dragging Kvitova wide and tempting the Czech into a forehand error. One final error long by the usually fearsome Kvitova forehand gave Giorgi the first set on the Italian’s fifth set point, after a grueling 70 minutes.

The second set, by comparison, was anticlimactic, as the wind went out of Kvitova’s sails. Giorgi started to step way into the court on second service returns, and Kvitova’s forehand faltered much more often than it does during her purple patches of form.

Kvitova threw in a fatigued double fault down break point at 1-1 to give Giorgi the first lead of the second set. Then, serving at 4-2, Kvitova was broken at love after she hit multiple forehands wide with no provocation.

Giorgi neared the finish line, and serving at 5-2, 30-30, the Italian hit an ace to bring up her first match point. Here, Kvitova put up her sternest resistance of the set, saving four match points, but the Czech could never reach break point in an attempt to extend the match any further.

A lovely backhand winner by Giorgi brought up a fifth match point, and one more wide unforced error from the Kvitova forehand gave the qualifier another straight-set win in a long line of them this week.

Sydney: 1st Round Interview

Q. First match, just one set, but you seemed to be seeing the ball like a grapefruit. How happy were you with the first set you got?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, I was sick in Brisbane, so I was lying days, maybe week in the bed with the fever. Wasn’t really nice. Then I started to practice here in pretty hot weather, which of course doesn’t really suit me and my body.

So I was pretty unhappy with everything what happened in the beginning of the year. But it was like getting better, and I think that I was pretty lucky with the weather which I played today. It was night, no wind, nothing really bothering me.

I’m sad that Mirjana couldn’t finish the match, but hopefully she will get better. Obviously I think I played probably what I could in the moment. I think that the serve was there sometimes. I think I moved pretty okay. So, yeah.


Q. So you’re just okay with it?

I was just okay with it. I mean, it was the first match of the season, so it’s always a bit tricky, as well, coming like after no matches. Even I played some in Czech Republic when we played some league, I played some matches over there, but it’s still very different to play in a tournament. I’m pretty happy with that.


Q. Because you came back in the middle of the year last year, does this feel like another comeback almost? Because it’s the beginning of the season and you get a full swing at a season?

Actually, I had like this thought yesterday when I was thinking, like, that I didn’t play for two months maybe some match, but it feels totally different comparing to French Open, have to say (smiling). What a surprise.

But it’s different feeling and different nerves, for sure. I mean, coming for the new season, everybody is pretty nervous, because nobody really knows how to play, like, how they gonna feel and play on the court in the matches like this.

I didn’t really feel like a comeback. I was just trying to take it as a preparation for Melbourne, because I couldn’t really practice from the time I came to Australia, so it was pretty small things which I did, but I’m happy how I played the first set.


Q. Obviously when you came back in July, everybody had already played half the year and maybe you were playing catchup to the others? But now everyone is starting from the same place?

That’s true.


Q. Better chance to establish yourself?

Yeah, I think it’s a little bit different, and everybody is starting in the same time. Not me, I didn’t play Brisbane in the end, but…


Q. Almost.

One week is okay. It’s better than six months (smiling).


Q. Just speaking of the offseason, so at the end of the year, you were tired, my understanding, and putting down the racquets and getting things fired up again in the preseason, was the preseason different at all for you this year or was it the same of what you had done a couple years ago?

Well, it was a little bit different, but in the end was same, right? It’s tennis. In the end of the day, I practiced some hours. Have fitness, as well.

You know, for me, the time after the season was pretty good, have to say, because like mentally I was really like empty after everything what happened last year. Like was one day when was like turning point when I was feeling, like, I’m done. I don’t want to touch the racquet anymore. You know, I was still waiting for the call from Zhuhai, and I was, like, oh, it would be not nice to take the racquet again (smiling).

So in the end, everything was good. Then when I started preparation was okay. I mean, I was probably mentally refreshed already, and I could start again. So was a month and something which I had like preparation, so it was a good one.


Q. Does everything feel more normal now?

Oh, definitely, yeah. I feel like finally a normal tennis player.

Yeah, I mean, in the end of the last season, I started to feel normal again. I think like all the beginning when I like came back beginning, it was pretty weird, I have to say, but, like, when I’m more on the tour back, it’s much better.


Q. Angie was just in here and I have spoken to other players, you’re outside top 20, and Angie and Aga are outside top 20, Serena when she comes back will be unranked.

It’s very interesting.


Q. It’s very interesting. Sharapova, Vika. What do you think is going to be in store for the 2018 WTA season when that’s what we’re looking at?

I have no idea. I mean, everybody has just up-and-downs, of course. Angie or Aga, I mean, we have been there for many years in the top, and just one year it’s just happened. For example, Angie, I mean, she had unbelievable year, and then of course it’s a little bit difficult with the pressure and everything.

It will be very interesting when everybody will come back and play, because Serena — Maria is looking sharp again, and it will be nice for fans, maybe for you, as well. I’m not sure if for us (smiling).

But, I mean, we always probably know that we can play with each other and it’s just about the few points who is a little bit stronger probably in the main points, as probably Lucie played Angie today, had to be great match about a few points. It’s just that close.

And I think like those, me, as well, who are outside of the top 20 will try to get back, of course, and will be interesting. The draw will be very interesting sometimes, as well.


Q. That was my next question. You know me so well, you know what I’m going to ask you. But that was my next question, which is obviously the Australian Open draw is in a couple days, and even here Angie is playing Venus tomorrow in a second-round match.

Who is playing Venus?


Q. Angie, after playing Safarova. These are the draws that are happening when the rankings are where they are at. So is that a good thing? I don’t know. Are you ready to fight through draws like that from the very beginning?

Well, we can’t really choose, but I think it’s not good. That’s what I think. I think like of course that we are ready to fight from the first rounds, but like those matches, of course it’s the same for everyone who is playing, but I just feel that sometimes those players who, you know, really achieve something and playing well and are champions and whatever, they should meet little bit later on in the tournament.


Q. Like Sharapova/Halep played US Open.

Yeah, exactly. It was a great match but it was first round. Of course the people are enjoying it. Doesn’t matter how deep it is in tournament. But I just feel like for the players, it’s just better to meet them like a little bit later.


Q. It seems like it will make things very unpredictable for the next few months, yeah?

Yeah, I think so. The draws can be very interesting. Four are out of top 20? Four? How many? Doesn’t matter.

It’s going to be like very interesting. I mean, we are still seeded for Melbourne, luckily. But, yeah, and then, like, I think like the seeded and unseeded, it’s big gap between, so when we are seeded it’s still good. Still better, let’s say.


Q. Then next year they are talking about seeds going from 32 to 16 at the slams.

As seeded?


Q. Only going to be 16 seeds starting 2019.

Okay. Thank you for news.


Q. You’re welcome. If that was this year you’d be unseeded going into the Australian Open.



Q. Do you like that change or do you not like that change?

No. I don’t like the change. Doesn’t matter if I’m like out of 16, but I feel like those rules, which we have like for so many years, shouldn’t be really change, and I think when you have 128 players should be still 32 seeded. That’s my thought.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Sydney: Petra moves into 2nd round

Petra moved through to the second round of the 2018 Sydney International after her opponent retired due to illess. Petra, who had withdrawn from the Brisbane International last week because of a nasty virus, raced through the first set 6-1 with some trademark heavy hitting under the lights on Court One. Unfortunately, world No.30 Mirjana Lucic Baroni was unable to complete the match and gifted Petra a safe passage through to the next round, where she will face Italian talent Camila Giorgi.

“I’m sad that Mirjana couldn’t finish the match, but hopefully she will get better soon,” said Petra. “Obviously I think I played probably what I could in the moment. I think that the serve was there sometimes. I think I moved pretty okay. It was the first match of the season, so it’s always a bit tricky, as well, coming like after no matches. Even I played some in Czech Republic when we played some league, I played some matches over there, but it’s still very different to play in a tournament. I’m pretty happy with that.”



The Guardian – Interview

Exclusive Interview by Claire Bloomfield // 16 Dec 2017

The grisly details of the terrifying knife attack that turned Petra Kvitova’s life upside down almost exactly a year ago are barely comprehensible. Watching her on the practice courts at the Sparta Praha Tennis Club, it is almost impossible to detect the effects from injuries so severe some experts believed the two-times Wimbledon champion would never resume her career; she still suffers from nerve damage to her playing hand and cannot entirely clench her fist or feel two of her fingers.

Kvitova puts down her racket to take a break from back-to-back practice sessions on the indoor courts and makes her way upstairs to a small meeting room with her coach, Jiri Vanek, a kit bag slung over her athletic 6ft frame.

After a brief and cheerful exchange in Czech with Vanek, whom she hired only a few weeks before the attack, she pulls up a chair by the window overlooking the tired and rusty clay courts below. There is an air of confidence about her as she matter-of-factly discusses the next steps in her recovery before revealing the full physical and mental trauma of an attack that left her terrified to hold a racket again after career-saving surgery and a gruelling rehabilitation.

“It will probably take more than a year to get full movement back, I’m not sure,” Kvitova says. “For tennis and for life, it’s good. I’ve done everything that I could but there is still some space to improve it. I hope that with more time I will be even stronger. I am happy that [throughout the recovery] I was always looking forward to the better tomorrows.”


Kvitova made an emotional return to action in the French Open in May, where she progressed to the second round, confounding the expectations of her surgeon – who had sleepless nights over her recovery – and those who had written off her career.

“I did hear the rumours that I would never ever play again but I thought: ‘I will show them,’ she recalls, offering a reminder of the steely determination instilled in her by her father, Jiri.

“I was like: ‘Why are they saying this?’ It was very painful for me, it felt like they didn’t believe me. Of course, at that time, I probably didn’t know how bad it was because nobody told me – and I am happy for that now.

“My doctor [Radek Kebrle] told me that many other experts thought that I would never ever play. He didn’t want to tell me – and that was a good decision for my mental state of mind.

“The week after surgery I asked my doctor: ‘Do you think I could play in Wimbledon this year?’ He didn’t answer for a while and then he said: ‘We are going to work on it and blah, blah, blah.’ I understood then that it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Read more…

Petra on sportsmanship and respect

Petra Kvitova joins the WTA Insider Podcast to discuss her 2017 Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award and her grueling pre-season training regimen, which has her counting down the days until she kicks off her 2018 campaign at the Brisbane International.

The Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award is awarded to the player who conducts herself in a manner fitting of a professional sports figure and observes the rules of fair play, shows respect for others and is gracious on and off the court. The award has been voted on by players since 1978. Kvitova has won it in six of the last seven years.

“When I found out this news I was very happy because I really didn’t expect it,”

Kvitova said on the WTA Insider Podcast.

“I know I got it a few years before, but this year it’s more special than other years. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I missed the first half of the season. It’s really nice of the players and I really appreciate it.


WTA Insider: You’ve been awarded the Sportsmanship award by the other players in six of the last seven years. That must feel pretty good. 

Kvitova: When I found out this news I was very happy because I really didn’t expect it. I know I got it a few years before, but this year it’s more special than other years. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I missed the first half of the season. It’s really nice of the players and I really appreciate it. It’s important to me to behave well, to be the one who they voted for. For me it’s natural, so it’s not that tough (laughs). So it’s good. 

WTA Insider: What does sportsmanship mean to you?

KvitovaFor me, it’s about on and off the court behavior, the respect for each other on the court and off the court. I’m always one who wants to fight on the court, but off the court we’re just normal people. I just love saying hi to everyone and smiling, not cross anyone. For me, it’s just nice to have those people. I’m just happy to see them. 

It’s about respect and appreciating each other. We need each other. We are fighters, we are opponents, but we are colleagues as well. 

WTA Insider: In an interview we did earlier this year, you said that being away and coming back made you feel thankful for the tennis family. Does this award do that as well? 

KvitovaThis kind of award doesn’t remind me as much as this year when I came back. It was the biggest love from the players that I’ve ever [experienced]. They were hugging and smiling, asking how I am, and welcoming me back. It was so nice. I really felt like we are a big tennis family, which is just amazing. When I think about that, it’s always so nice and it always makes me smile. 

The award is a little bit different. It’s just a thing. But the feeling when I came back and everyone was so nice, that really reminded me that we are opponents and colleagues, and we travel from city to city and we are together every week. It’s just a huge family. 

WTA Insider: So how has your pre-season been so far? It seems from your social media posts that it’s been brutal.

KvitovaIt is brutal, I have to say. I can’t imagine having as tough a preparation as I have now. 

So far it’s good. I’m healthy, that’s the most important. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to the matches. This training time is not really great for me. I like matches more than practice. 

WTA Insider: How important was the off-season for you?

KvitovaWell, at the end of the season I didn’t really feel that I was empty or one of those things, but when the last tournament came I was totally empty. It was really weird, from one day to another day I was like ok, I need a break. I need the time off. I had three or four weeks off and then I was back with the fitness and we started with a little bit of tennis this week. 

Mentally I was really prepared for the off-season because the year had many ups and downs and full of emotions. So I needed some time off. 

WTA Insider: When you look back on 2017, what are the on-court things you want to take with you into next year and what are you working on to improve right now?

KvitovaI think that I improved my fitness. In the time I couldn’t play tennis I did a lot of fitness, in the first half of the year, so I’m very happy I stayed healthy. We all know how different it is to practice and then play tournaments and still be healthy. So that’s one thing I want to take with me to the next season, the health and fitness. 

I’m working on more on the serve now. I think at the end of the season I made too many double-faults sometimes and it didn’t make very happy (laughs). As always, everything needs to improve if you want to be in contention with the top players. You have to put more than 100% to be ready for the season because everyone will be and I don’t want to be in [last place].

WTA Insider: Has this off-season felt longer than normal?

Kvitova: It is, because we are not playing the final of the Fed Cup. I missed that, after all these years. In the WTA calendar, I finished after Tianjin. On one hand, it was good because I needed that time not to think about tennis and I had time to come back and practice again. Of course, it would be nice to play the final of the Fed Cup. But in that way, it was good.

WTA Insider: Where are you training? 

KvitovaI was training in Dubai, in Monte Carlo, and now I’m in Czech. Barbora (Strycova) is here, Karolina (Pliskova) is here, Kristyna (Pliskova) is here, Katarina (Siniakova) is here. It’s like a small Fed Cup team. 

WTA Insider: What has been the most fun you’ve had during the off-season?

Kvitova: For sure seeing my friends and my family, and to be on vacation. The best thing is to not have to travel with the tennis bag, that I’m going to the airport and the plane and I don’t have my tennis racquets. 

WTA Insider: When do you leave for Australia?

KvitovaLeaving the 26th of December and playing Brisbane. I will be with my family for two days for Christmas and then I will leave on the 26th. 

But I have to say, I’m looking forward to it. I love Australia. The people, the weather, everything. For me, it’s like tennis plus the bonus of the Australia. 

And also the matches. I’m boring (laughs).

Beijing 2017

Petra ousted by home hope in Tianjin

Zhu Lin upset two-time Wimbledon champion and No.2 seed Petra in the first round of the Tianjin Open on Wednesday, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. In a tremendous battle, Petra fought back from 5-1 down in the third set before the home hope Zhu Lin sealed victory after two hours and 16 minutes. The defeat marked Petra’s final match of the 2017 season.

“It’s obviously not the way I wanted my season to finish, but I have to give my opponent credit for handling the conditions better than I did today,” said Petra. “I can’t be too hard on myself after I missed the first half of the season, so I will take some time now to plan a great off season and come back ready for 2018.”

Petra beaten in Beijing semis

Caroline Garcia defeated Petra 6-3, 7-5 to reach the biggest final of her career at China Open. Garcia played consistent aggression to outsteady the former World No.2 and advance after 90 minutes on court.

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Kvitova’s problem in Beijing wasn’t just Garcia, who won the Wuhan Open last week. It was also her ability to play consistently. A nightmare start to the match by the two-time Wimbledon champion allowed Garcia to stroll to a 4-0 lead. Hitting a series of double faults, Kvitova only managed to win one out of her first eight points on serve.

As the match progressed, Garcia started to encounter the resistance that many anticipated. Despite dropping one of her breaks, the early damage enabled her clinch the opening set with ease. Hitting an ace out wide to seal the 6-3 lead.

Following the rocky start, set two saw a much closer encounter between the two. There was a lot at stake for both players with Garcia aiming to break the top 10 for the first time with this win and Kvitova seeking to make her 27th WTA final.

Trading breaks, it was once again Kvitova’s unreliable serving that resulted in her downfall. With Garcia leading 6-3, 5-5, a nightmare service game from the Czech destroyed her hopes of winning. Three double faults combined with as backhand error gifted Garcia the chance to serve for a place in the final. It was an opportunity the Frenchwoman seized without hesitation as she converted her first match point with the help of a serve down the line.