Fed Cup: Petra sends Czechs into semis

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic advanced to the Fed Cup semifinals after double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-4 Sunday.

Kvitova’s victory in the first reverse singles gave the Czechs an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the first-round match and secured a 10th straight appearance in the last four. They will face Germany or Belarus in the April semifinals.

The second reverse singles was not played but Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky and Jil Teichmann defeated Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova 1-6, 6-4, 10-8 in the doubles to make the final score 3-1 to the Czechs.

The 27-year-old Kvitova, who triumphed at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, secured the win against Bencic on her first match point.

“It was better today than yesterday, when I played in the Fed Cup again after such a long time away and needed time to get used to it,” she said. “It was a good game from both of us but I wasn’t so nervous as yesterday.”


The big-hitting Czech player put her opponent under pressure with aggressive strokes on the indoor hard court at Prague’s O2 Arena, breaking serve twice in the opening set.

Kvitova, who hit a total of 10 aces, then got the decisive break for a 4-3 lead in the second set after Bencic sent a forehand long.

It was a memorable return to the Fed Cup for Kvitova after she was injured in a knife attack at her home in December 2016.

Kvitova, who won the St. Petersburg Open in Russia earlier this month, was a member of the Czech team that won five of the last seven Fed Cups.

Karolina Pliskova, the Czech No. 1, missed the first-round match against the Swiss because of illness.

Courtesy of Tennis.com

Interview: “I will leave this victory in my heart”

– You have quite a few bright victories to your credit, you won the year end championships so which place will this victory in St. Petersburg take in your career?

I think that every title is different and has its own story; this is my second title after my comeback I didn’t play at the beginning of the last year. It is special for me to win this trophy, indoor that I always loved. Hopefully it shows me that I still can play good. I have good games during the whole week which I spent here. So it is very special one for me. And I will remember that.


– We obviously saw you playing at the level of the world number one today and Kristina Mladenovic has just admitted that there is nothing she can do when you are playing like this. So can we hope to see you playing like this, maybe not every single week but at least at 10 tournaments throughout the year?

Hopefully. I will go for it as well. It is not easy to play like that every time you step on the court. Tennis is an individual sports. It depends on the hormones sometimes as well: how you sleep or don’t sleep. It is pretty challenging to play like this. I really went for it today; I love to play the finals of the tournaments. Probably I was born for that. I mean I always gave everything what I have. It was the same today. Kiki played well. She challenged me as well. I hope I can continue this good shape.


– When I was watching at your tennis today it reminded me of a hurricane and it reminded mw the level of the game you played at your winning Wimbledon. Are you completely satisfied with the game you show or you have something to improve?

We are human. We are always trying to get better even I wouldn’t play well my match today I think I did everything well. I think my volleys and serve help me today, my return as well but there are small things you can improve. And I think it is a good thing because it made us going forward. Now I am sitting here and satisfied inside. I know that I played a good game. That is what I will leave finally in my heart.


– Could you please share your game plan for today?

Just to have winners and aces (laugh).


– Your colleague Caroline Wozniacki after her win in Melbourne according to her dressed up, she had some yachting as a pleasure boat and also had some champagne. What are you planning to do to celebrate your win?

I think that Caroline is different she is more celebrating person than me. For me I always celebrate for myself and my team and people around me. I am not a really big drink girl as well I am not a party girl as well. I will enjoy some good dinner tonight for sure and maybe will have a glass of wine. And I hope I will have a good sleep then.


– You said during the awarding ceremony that you planned to come back here. Have you already engaged in some concrete negotiations with the organizing committee with respect to your eventual participating next year or you gonna use next year this tournament as journalist said back-up airport in case you don’t do as well at the Australian Open.

I have no idea I have just finished it and I just really loved the way I played, loved the tournament. It was just perfect for me. It’s a beautiful city. Finally I saw cruiser “Aurora” at night you should be very proud of me. We didn’t do a schedule for the next year yet. We will see. It was a great week for me so I will be very happy to come back.


– If you were to dedicate your victory today any idea of whom it might be? As a suggestion it might be Jana Novotna?

It’s pretty sad question. I think Jana deserves more than just a title from here. So it will go to my parents for sure.

Petra captures St. Petersburg crown

Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova has won at least one WTA title since 2011 and kept that streak alive at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, dispatching defending champion Kristina Mladenovic, 6-1, 6-2.

“This was a special tournament for me,” the wildcard said after the match. “All week, I played unbelievable matches and I really had to fight to make the final.”


The first left-hander to win a singles title in Russia, Kvitova played some of her best tennis since coming back from a traumatic hand injury last spring, striking 16 winners in the first set alone to deny Mladenovic a second straight St. Petersburg title after 65 minutes on court.

In all, the former World No.2 hit seven aces and dropped just six points behind her first serve, saving all three break points faced in front of an enthusiastic Sibur Arena crowd.

Kvitova now owns the fifth highest total singles titles among active players at 21, surpassing Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska, with whom she previously tied.

“We are always trying to get better,” Kvitova said. “Even on a day like today, where I feel like I did everything well – I think my volleys and serve helped in particular – there’s always some small things you can improve. But right now, I’m satisfied inside because I played a good game and that’s how I feel in my heart.”

St. Petersburg: Petra grounds Goerges to reach final

Petra Kvitova became the first wildcard to advance to the final of the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy on Saturday, taking out No.5 seed Julia Goerges in a thrilling three-set semifinal, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

Making her debut in St. Petersburg, Kvitova scored her second three-set victory of the week behind 30 winners and 11 aces, as she won 80% of the points behind her first serve to secure victory in two hours, five minutes.

Kvitova scored her third consecutive win against Goerges, and though the two had not played in nearly five years, Saturday’s semifinal was also the third straight match between the two to go the distance.


Interview: “Everything here suits my game”

Looking at the score it seemed like it was pretty easy for you. Was it truly like that?

I don’t think so. From the beginning of the match when I was facing two break points it was a very important game for me to hold serve, then I started to play a little bit better. In the second set I think it was pretty close and tight at the beginning, when I broke her and I held serve, at 5/2 it was very important game. But obviously it’s not an easy match to play against Ostapenko, she is the champion of the French Open, I knew I have to play well against her.


Jelena Ostapenko is famous for her comebacks. She can win 4-5 games in a row. Did you feel in the 7th game of the second set that she could turn the tide? 

I didn’t know she is famous for her comebacks, I know that she is famous, because she is a great fighter and she never really gives up, which I could during the match for sure. I didn’t think that she would still come back, but I was just telling myself that I need to keep myself up and head up and still play well, because I know that she can start playing much better suddenly. Normally, when girls are down they are playing a little bit more freely. That’s, probably, how I was thinking in that game. It was very important and also a long one, there were a lot of deuces, so I just tried to be there and serve well.


Statistically, you are the best indoor player here. I’m just kind of curious. Does it give you a psychological boost when you enter indoor tournaments?

Not really. Maybe it’s better when I’m coming to the tournaments like that before and, probably, it’s good for the first match of the tournament. I’m kind of trying to  the confidence from the past and play well indoors. But if I’m in already in the draw playing a little bit better than before, then everything is a little bit easier, then I’m not thinking about indoor in this way. I think I’m serving very well, which is really helping and that’s probably, the case.


Your next opponent [Julia Goerges] is also famous for her indoor matches. What do you expect from this match?

I know that she is in a very good form. Since the end of the last year she really has been playing well, she didn’t lose many matches. I know that she’s on fire right now. I’m guessing that she likes indoors as well and has a good serve and a good forehead. She is playing aggressive as well, which I need to play as well, so I hope that the game I played today will be there as well. And I will try my best. I know that she is playing really well. So, we’ll see.


You have been playing really well these 3 matches here in St. Petersburg. Don’t you think that St. Petersburg can be not only the city of the Peter the Great, but also the city of Petra (in your honor)?

Well, that would be very nice. You know, it’s my first time here and I obviously like the city. I like to play indoors, I like the venue, everything is so beautiful. I’ll do my best to play well here, but I’m not sure how far I’ll get. I’ll try. I like it here, it suits my game and that’s all I can say.


During the match you wore a tape. Did it bother you? And how do you feel now?

I felt it a little bit yesterday, but today was fine. I just had it as a protection, but this morning I felt like a 60-year-old woman, that’s why I put it, just in case something happens, but it was fine today.


St. Petersburg: Petra powers by Ostapenko, into semis

In a matchup between two Grand Slam champions, it was Petra Kvitova who put on a masterclass to defeat No.2 seed Jelena Ostapenko and reach the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy on Friday, 6-0, 6-2.

The two-time Wimbledon champion was near her vintage best over the couse of the 58-minute affair, breaking serve five times to cruise to the most one-sided victory in the pair’s five head-to-head meetings.

A bagel first set for the Czech saw her strike eight winners in six games, as she routinely pinned Ostapenko at the back of the court with a barrage of powerful grounstrokes.

In the second set, Ostapenko stayed on serve over the first five games, but two double faults in a costly sixth game of the set helped Kvitova claim the decisive break for the match.

Kvitova did not face a break point in the second set, but dug out of a 0-30 hole in a mammoth seventh game which went to deuce three times as Ostapenko looked to draw level, and capped the match with a backhand return winner to advance to her first semifinal of the season.

“At the end of the last match, I found my rhythm a little bit – I knew I had to play a little bit better today, against someone who is playing very aggressive. I had to stay focused on every point, which I did today,” Kvitova said on-court after the match.


Kvitova served four aces in the match, losing just three points on serve for 89% of points won behind her first delivery.

The Czech struck 13 winners to 10 unforced errors, while Ostapenko managed just eight winners to go along with 16 unforced errors in the match.

Making her in St. Petersburg, Kvitova scored her 62nd career victory on indoor hard courts, the most among active WTA players.

Courtesy of WTATennis.com

St. Petersburg: Petra beats Begu to reach quarters

Petra Kvitova survived a mid-match wobble to edge past the tricky Irina-Camelia Begu and make her way into the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy quarterfinals.

After putting in a dominant 6-2, 6-0 victory in her previous match against No.7 seed Elena Vesnina, Kvitova faced more resistance against Begu but continued her her strong form to notch a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 victory in just over an hour and 30 minutes.

One break of serve made the difference in the closely contested opening set. Every game save one went to 40-30 as both players piled the pressure on each other, but it was Kvitova who broke through early on to get ahead a 3-1 lead. She didn’t face a break point as she held onto the advantage to wrap up the opening set.

It was just as close in the start of the second before Begu finally bucked the trend. As Kvitova’s second serve began to misfire, Begu pounced on the opportunity to break twice and serve out a love game to zoom ahead to a 5-1 lead.

But Kvitova righted the ship in the final set, finding her strong serves once again and striking winners off both wings. The Czech reeled off the first five games in a row before closing out the match in an hour and 36 minutes.

Courtesy of WTATennis.com

St. Petersburg: Petra puts on masterclass against Vesnina

Petra Kvitova dropped just two games in a commanding straight sets victory against No.7 seed Elena Vesnina in the opening round of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.

Kvitova grabbed a wildcard into St. Petersburg looking to rebound from an early Australian Open loss, falling in the first round after a marathon loss to Andrea Petkovic.

Her strong serving kept Vesnina out of the contest, allowing her to create just one break chance all match long as she regularly saw her own serve come under fire from Kvitova’s booming returns. The Czech needed just over an hour to wrap up the 6-2, 6-0 victory – and send a strong message to the rest of the St. Petersburg field.

“I’m very happy with the win and with the game I was able to play today,” Kvitova told press after the match. “I love to play indoors and it’s great to be in St. Petersburg playing for the first time as well.”

Kvitova bracketed the opening set with a break of serve in Vesnina’s first and last service games. The Russian struck five double faults across both sets and struggled to win just 50% of points off her first serve as Kvitova took the returns early.

It was one-way traffic in the second set as Kvitova kicked it up another gear. She was nearly flawless as she reeled off six games in a row, breaking three times to wrap up the match. Vesnina did well to dig her heels in at the end, saving six break points in the same game to try to stop Kvitova’s momentum, but the Czech wouldn’t be denied.

Up next she’ll take on Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round, after the Romanian edged past lucky loser Andrea Petkovic in a tight two sets battle yesterday.

“I’m always taking it match by match and I know that in tennis every day is different,” Kvitova said. “Every match is tough so it doesn’t really matter who I play, I just try to focus on myself and my game.

“But of course, tennis in an individual sport so sometimes things depend on your opponent as well. I’m playing well and [Begu] is playing good too. I just need to be focusing on myself.”


Petra keeps perspective after heartbreaking loss

Her spirit was there and her mind willing, but her body could not quite get her over the line.

Petra Kvitova’s comeback to the Australian Open ended in the first round Tuesday with a 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 loss against Andrea Petkovic. Kvitova, who missed last year’s event, served for the match twice but to no avail. The effects of a recent fever and lingering cough were perhaps factors down the stretch.

But if anyone is likely to be able to put a loss in perspective, it is Kvitova.

Twelve months ago, she was in Gran Canaria, trying to quiet her mind after she was attacked by a knife-wielding intruder in her own home weeks earlier – an attack that left her with serious injuries to her dominant left hand. The Czech was trying to relax in the winter sunshine when she was alerted to a video on Twitter.

The message showed many of her fellow professionals telling the two-time Wimbledon champion how much they missed her, how they wished her a speedy recovery and that they looked forward to seeing her back on tour soon.

Already determined to come back, despite the severity of her hand injury, which required four hours of surgery, the messages of support gave her an added impetus at a time when she was attempting – and failing – to not watch the Australian Open on TV.

“It was very, very nice,” a smiling Kvitova told ESPN.com at Melbourne Park this week. “I did watch a lot of [the matches]. I’m not sure it was a good idea. I tried to watch more of the men’s, but of course sometimes I saw some of the women’s as well. Mentally it was very tough.”


But mental toughness is something Kvitova has showed an astonishing level of, given what she went through. When she returned to the tour, at the French Open last May, she was seemed calm – at least on the outside.

“[That] was the worst thing about Paris,” she said. “I knew that some bad questions will come. To be honest, I was pretty nervous before it. [The attack] was still pretty [recent], and the emotions were not great. I was still believing, but I couldn’t really use my left hand, which was weird. I needed help from other people.

“Normally I am very independent, so suddenly I couldn’t drive the car or put my jacket on or jeans on and everything. So I was feeling a totally different person. As time went by, and the hand was feeling better, the emotions were better and better, too.”


Amazingly, Kvitova won her second tournament, on the grass of Birmingham, but it wasn’t until she reached the quarterfinals of the US Open last September, beating Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza along the way, that she really believed she was back to somewhere close to her old self on the court.

“I have to say, I played without fear, being back on the grass, it was more like adrenaline than anything else,” Kvitova said. “The US Open, when I came to New York, from the first practice I felt much better.


Considering everything she has been through, there are bound to be difficult moments, memories that won’t go away. But Kvitova insists she is trying to look forward.

“Of course, the flashbacks are still there and probably will never be gone, but on the other hand, I feel more normal than before,” Kvitova said. “So this is a good sign for sure. I think sometimes I think I am not really thinking about small things as much as I did before.”


At 27, she has plenty of time to add to her Grand Slam collection. A fever she thinks she caught on the plane to Melbourne interrupted her preparations, but she has never been the kind of player who needs to spend hours on court to be close to her best.

Former world No. 1 Martina Navratilova said last week that she believes Kvitova can win another major this year, and Wimbledon, where she’s won twice, is the most likely spot.

Despite the loss Tuesday, Kvitova is feeling good and her hand, which was so badly mauled, looks great.

“My doctor says it’s good,” she said. “It will never be perfect, probably. But the scars are getting softer. I think the strength is there. I think the movement is not the best, but he said it will improve, so I hope so.”

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.

Reported by wtatennis.com

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.