WTA: Feature on Petra Kvitova

Kvitova's Fresh Start In Stuttgart

Kvitova’s Fresh Start In Stuttgart

STUTTGART, Germany – “It’s not the beginning of the season, but for me it feels a little bit like it.”

The WTA tour has just started its European clay season, but it’s a fresh start for the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova, who returns to action this week in Stuttgart for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. She took a two month break from the game, withdrawing from Indian Wells and Miami citing exhaustion.

Kvitova returned in time to lead the Czech team to its fourth Fed Cup final in five years. She defeated France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia, both in straight sets. Teammate Lucie Safarova‘s win over Caroline Garcia saw the Czechs win 3-1 in front of a home crowd in Ostrava.

“I love to represent my country, it’s an honor for me,” Kvitova said about the win. “After this break it was tougher than before, for sure. I’m glad that we won. I like the challenge.”

That’s miles away from what she was feeling a few months ago in January during the tour’s Asia-Pacific swing, when she first realized something was not right. It was in Sydney during the Apia International Sydney tournament that Kvitova first heard alarm bells.

“I was playing, but I didn’t really feel any excitement and it was really tough for me,” she recalled. “I was feeling like empty.”

The 25-year-old Czech had started off the season with good results – she’d made the semifinals in Shenzhen and was on her way to another in Sydney. Kvitova had just stepped off the court after beating Jarmila Gajdosova in a tight three set quarterfinal match, and realized she felt nothing.

“I didn’t have any feelings. I wasn’t really happy. I just was, ‘Okay, good, semifinal tomorrow.'”

Although she went on to the win the Sydney title, Kvitova still couldn’t shake off that “weird feeling.” She continued on to Doha and Dubai, but after a text message conversation with her coach David Kotyza, she made the tough decision to withdraw from Indian Wells and Miami.

Kvitova spent her two months away from the game doing nothing but resting, passing the time by napping and lying on the beach. While she relished having nothing to do, Kvitova and her team had a return plan in sight, spending four weeks without playing at all before starting fitness again, then gradually adding tennis back to her routine.

Now, the World No.4 feels ready to make her return – Kvitova is set to face American Madison Brengle in her first match in Stuttgart. Her goal is to go step by step, focusing on getting back her match fitness. Her ranking was not affected by her break and she has no points to defend in Stuttgart, so the Czech is in a great position to make the most out of her comeback.

“I’m glad to be back and playing and competing again,” she said. “I’m trying from the beginning not to put too much pressure on myself.”

(Article originally posted on wtatennis.com)

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