The year was 2008. The event: French Open. She was playing Kai Kanepi, a player that I have always personally liked to watch and who I believed had a sure shot at reaching a Grand Slam final or even winning one. Before that though, there was a result that left me in awe. Petra had taken out Venus Williams in 3 tough sets in the Cellular World Cup in Memphis earlier in the 2008 season.
When she was slated to face Serena Williams in the second round of the Australian Open in 2010, I was understandably nervous for Ms. Williams. However, she lost to Ms. Williams 6-2, 6-1. Later that season she would go on to face Serena again in the semifinals of Wimbledon, where after putting up a tough fight in the first set, taking it to a breaker, she would lose the match in straight sets. However, prior to that Wimbledon semifinal match, Petra would go on to save multiple set and match points in her quarter final match against Kaia Kanepi. However, it was early on in the season that Petra had started to make her presence felt on the women’s tour.
The 2010 season however signified just what was to come with Kvitova in 2011.
In her first tournament of the season at the Brisbane International, she defeated up and coming rising star, Andrea Petkovic to win that tournament. She then lost in the third round to eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open. Showing that she has the capacity to rebound from defeats, the next time she met Clijsters was at the Open Gaz, Paris Indoors. In that tournament she beat Kim Clijsters in a display of power and precision to win her second title of the season.
Kvitova has always been an inconsistent player and her results in 2011 have showed why many of her fans are left holding their heads and wondering what is going on with her. Petra’s results throughout the season have been head scratching or blink and you miss them moments. Her results after winning the Paris Indoors went something like this:-
• fell 1st round at Dubai
• fell 1st round at Indian Wells
• reached 3r at Miami
• won fourth WTA title at Madrid
• reached 4th round at Roland Garros
• runner up at Eastbourne
Since winning Wimbledon, Petra has reverted to her first round losing days. Much of this has to do with her inconsistency, but some of it can also be attributed to injuries. She was diagnosed earlier this year with asthma, which seemed to affect her more during the North American part of the Tour, perhaps due to the high level of humidity that occurs during this time of the year.
Receiving a wild card and seeded No. 1 at the tournament in Linz, Petra would go on to beat some notable players, including former No. 1, Jelena Jankovic in 3 sets, in a match which included some wonderful tennis and then went on to beat Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets in a display of tennis not seen since her Wimbledon run.
Every tennis fan agrees that when Petra is on, she is really on, and when she is off, all you can do is say Oh My in the same way that Dick Enberg says it. Petra has always reminded me of a young Venus Williams. All that power, poise, no outward sign of emotion, those deep hard groundies and those unforced errors that just keep piling up during a match and then she wins, despite her best efforts to lose.
With 5 titles to her credit this year, her wins against top 10 opponents, the fact that she has won a Grand Slam, a Premier Mandatory event, and has qualified for the first time for the Year End Championships, Petra Kvitova has put herself in the driver’s seat for WTA Player of the Year.