The following article was authored by MiamiTennisNews.com and appeared on the pages of OnTheBaseline.com as part of their “2010 Players to Watch” series. It is being republished on MiamiTennisNews.com with permission from OnTheBaseline.com.
Whilst the two consonants comprising the introduction of her surname may be a source of consternation as to its pronunciation, in Petra Kvitova‘s case, this will shortly be an aberration. In light of this teenager’s memorable accomplishments in 2009, it is safe to assume that her name will be fluidly rolling off tennis fans’ tongues for the foreseeable future.
Hailing from the Czech Republic, earlier this year, at the age of 18, Kvitova bagged her maiden Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title in Hobart by defeating compatriot and seasoned rival Iveta Benesova. With that victory, Kvitova cracked the top 40 for the first time. Weeks later though at the Australian Open, Kvitova had the misfortune of drawing 14th ranked phenom Victoria Azarenka in the opening round and made a prompt departure.
Still, Kvitova redeemed herself at the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. Facing the 2008 finalist Spain, Kvitova got her team off to a magnificent start by beating Carla Suarez Navarro, a recent quarterfinalist in Australia. Then, with a euphoric stadium cheering her on, the youngster bested Nuria Llagostera Vives to secure the Czech Republic’s semifinal berth. However, in April, after winning the initial rubber versus American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Kvitova ran into a glitch. Alexa Glatch routed her in two sets. Ultimately, the U.S advanced to the finals.
Mid year, Kvitova struggled with an ankle injury which kept her out of Roland Garros and contributed to a series of early losses including Wimbledon. Kvitova’s ranking dipped to 69. Attempting to get match fit, Kvitova played an ITF tournament in August only to be ousted in the first round by a lesser opponent. Days following though at the U.S Open, Kvitova showed that she indeed possesses the tools that will make her a prime contender.
With time constraints moving play from Ashe to Armstrong stadium, Kvitova ranked 72nd had the night of her burgeoning career. Using her six foot frame to serve effectively and her most potent stroke, her forehand, Kvitova saved three match points against Dinara Safina. Kvitova prevailed in a compelling third set tiebreaker, shocking the world number one in the third round. Fernando Gonzalez, the 2007 Australian Open finalist, was once asked the secret to his potent forehand, he replied in essence fearlessness. At the Open, Petra demonstrated that her forehand will be feared by her adversaries for some time to come.
Kvitova joined the professional circuit in 2006. That September, three months after entering her first ITF tournament, Kvitova reached her first final and claimed the top prize. By year’s end, Kvitova’s ranking skyrocketed to 773. After racking up six titles in the minor league in 2007, she escalated to 157 in the ranks.
In July 2007, at age 17, Kvitova debuted in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s main draw in Stockholm before going down in the first round. At the only other WTA event she participated in that season, the U.S. Open, Petra failed to pass the qualifying stage.
While the U.S. Open victory was Kvitova’s highlight of 2009, this youngster is not a novice at stunning her peers. In February 2008, after surviving the qualifying round at the Open Gaz de France, a Tier II event, Kvitova surprised Anabel Medina Garrigues in the first round. However, she lost her next match to Elena Dementieva. A couple of weeks later, Kvitova pocketed her biggest scalp, shocking top seed and world number eight Venus Williams in the first round in Memphis. Subsequently in May at the French Open, Kvitova ousted Akiko Morigami, Samantha Stosur, 13th ranked Agnes Szavay before being stopped in the round of 16 by Kai Kanepi. With a quarterfinal showing in Zurich later that year, Kvitova ended the season ranked 44th.
Improvement has been a consistent word in Kvitova’s vocabulary. This September, Kvitova had a spectacular run in Linz reaching her second WTA final before succumbing to Yanina Wickmayer, the player to whom she fell at the U.S. Open in the round of 16.
Not surprisingly, Kvitova’s idol is Czech born and fellow lefty Martina Navratilova. With 18 singles majors, Navratilova is not a bad athlete to aspire to.
From the unbridled exuberance Kvitova exhibited after her triumph over Safina, the sweet savor of that win will be a high that she will be hungering for in 2010. Thus, it’s safe to assume that Kvitova will give much to talk and write about this upcoming season.