While it was a precise ace down the tee against Maria Sharapova, who had no answers for an on-song Petra Kvitova, which secured the Czech her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon back in 2011, an irretrievable powerful backhand cross court in the 2014 final which all her opponent, an overwhelmed Eugenie Bouchard, could do was just watch, made her a multiple Grand Slam champion.
By virtue of winning her first Wimbledon title in 2011, Kvitova became the first player of either gender born in the 1990s and beyond to win a Grand Slam title. Winning her second Wimbledon three years later makes Kvitova the first player of either gender born in the 1990s and beyond to win multiple Grand Slam titles. Another feat worth noting is that till this day, no other player born in the 1990s and beyond other than Kvitova has won a Grand Slam title.
The Bilovec-born Czech star possesses a game featuring raw power and talent which is no doubt a risky one that will either pay huge dividends or send her crashing out early at tournaments. Although she is known for her wild inconsistencies being unable to replicate good results from tournament to tournament, on her day she is the best player in the world and is capable of beating the best players on tour. She has proven so by claiming her first win over world number one Serena Williams at the Mutua Madrid Open last year.
On a separate note, Kvitova who became the 13th player to cross the 20-million mark in career prize money earned end of last year has finished every season since 2011 in the top eight, won a further ten titles and led her nation to win three of the next four Fed Cup finals.
Second Wimbledon title recap
Kvitova’s road to her Wimbledon title began with dominating performances against compatriot Andrea Hlavackova and German Mona Barthel. In the third round, Kvitova and five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams played in what was the arguably the best match of the entire tournament. Kvitova emerged the winner, winning 5-7, 7-6(2), 7-5.
The win against Williams seemed to have given Kvitova a huge boost of confidence as she sailed through her next three matches without fuss to enter her second Grand Slam final, her opponent across the net, Eugenie Bouchard who has been red-hot in 2014 thus far. Kvitova collapsed to the ground in tears on championship point after the aforementioned backhand cross court went unreturned, sealing the win in 55 minutes.
During the trophy presentation ceremony, Sue Barker began by remarking the Czech’s game plan to which Kvitova replied "Definitely, I had a great tactic from my coach, he always knows how I have to play and I really wanted to be here again with the trophy. It’s my second title, so I hope that now it is going to be a little easier for me." Kvitova saw her ranking return to the top five for the first time since July 2012 after Wimbledon concluded.
US Open series
In early August, IMG added Kvitova to its roster of clients. The newly-crowned Wimbledon champion joined the likes of Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Novak Djokovic who were already under IMG’s management.
Early losses at the Rogers Cup in Montreal which she won in 2012 and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati were definitely not what the Czech would have wanted following her Wimbledon bliss. However, she regrouped and raced to a third straight final in at the Connecticut Open in New Haven which she first won in 2012. There, she overcame last year’s disappointing final loss to beat Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova for the title.
Entering the US Open, she would have wanted to avoid a similar opening round loss in 2011 after her first Wimbledon triumph. She did not disappoint this time, securing comfortable wins over Kristina Mladenovic and Petra Cetkovska. However, she was dumped out in the third round by Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets, a bitter loss for the Czech.
Concluding the season
Kvitova then won the inaugural Wuhan Open by defeating Bouchard in the final, thus becoming the fourth player to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore, it was her third Premier 5-level trophy. In Beijing, she replicated her good form by reaching the final but fell short to Maria Sharapova in three sets. The 2014 Asian swing is Kvitova’s best to date, compiling an overall 8-1 record.
Before departing for Singapore, a tweet via Kvitova’s twitter revealed that she is in a relationship with Czech ice hockey player, Radek Meidl.
In her fourth consecutive appearance at the WTA Finals which she won in 2011 on debut, Kvitova exited in the round robin stage for the second time with just one win, over Sharapova and two losses to Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska.
In the Fed Cup final where the Czechs faced Germany, she led her country to its third Fed Cup title in four years after defeating Angelique Kerber in a blockbuster third rubber 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 which was a sort of do or die match for the German side. Kvitova’s stellar 2014 led her to being crowned Czech Athlete of the Year, the second time she has won the award having last won in 2011. She finished the season ranked fourth in the world and compiled a 43-16 record coupled with three titles.
In November 2014, Kvitova added a new member to her team, Alex Stober who was formerly Li Na’s fitness trainer. Then on New Year’s Eve, Right to Play announced Kvitova as their Global Athlete Ambassador. It is an organisation that utilises sports and games to educate and empower children.
Shenzhen and down under
After a semifinal appearance in Shenzhen, Kvitova travelled to Sydney for the Apia International Sydney. She booked her spot in her second straight semifinal where she faced Tsvetana Pironkova in a rematch of their semifinal last year which the Czech lost. Kvitova faced no problems this time around, dismantling the Bulgarian in straight sets to reach the final where she beat Karolina Pliskova for the title.
She was expected to do well at the Australian Open but despite convincing wins over Richel Hogenkamp and Barthel, she crashed out in the third round to eventual semifinalist Madison Keys in straight sets.
Middle Eastern swing and mid-season break
February was a dire month for the Czech which featured just two wins (over Elina Svitolina in Dubai and Jelena Jankovic in Doha) and two consecutive losses in the hands of Carla Suárez Navarro at both tournaments. When March came, Kvitova made a surprising decision to skip the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open due to exhaustion.
In an article which Kvitova wrote for BBC the following month, she elaborated on her decision to take a break. “I had never taken time off when I wasn't injured but I really felt I was exhausted, not only physically but mentally. I made the decision that I would miss Indian Wells before I stepped on the court in Doha and I think it was the right thing to do, I just hope it's going to pay off. I didn't always feel physically bad, I was able to play, but I wasn't there 100%. I felt I was fighting this strange feeling rather than the opponent; I couldn't really describe what was going on,” said Kvitova who was out of action for six weeks. In addition, it was also revealed that Kvitova and Stober had terminated their partnership.
Return and clay court swing
Kvitova’s return in April began with Fed Cup duty in the semifinal tie against France. Refreshed and rejuvenated, she did not face much trouble as she swept through both her rubbers with ease. The Czechs advanced to the final with a score line of 3-1. That same month, Kvitova revealed a new ambassadorship with Beverly Hills-based watchmaker, Ritmo Mundo. They signed a multi-year global contract which will see the two-time Wimbledon champion promote the brand for many years to come.
After a second straight winless campaign in Stuttgart, Kvitova rolled on to a second Mutua Madrid Open title, her second title on clay as well. She overwhelmed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final with the loss of just three games. In the semifinals earlier, she defeated world number one Serena Williams.
This was followed by a quarterfinal showing in Rome and a round of 16 appearance at the French Open. Compiling an 11-3 record on the red dirt, these were her best clay court results since 2011. As a result, she returned to her career high ranking of world number two entering the grass court swing.
Wimbledon disappointment and mononucleosis diagnosis
Kvitova was supposed to play the Aegon International in Eastbourne but withdrew at the last minute due to a sore throat. Entering Wimbledon with no grass court matches under her belt, there were some uncertainties surrounding the defending champion although she is back on her favourite surface and one of the heavy favourites for the title.
She surprised everyone with an ultra-dominating first round performance where she sent Kiki Bertens packing in 35 minutes. Kvitova lost just one point on her serve which was via a double fault. A second round routine victory over Kurumi Nara seemed to have cleared the earlier doubts.
In the following round against Jankovic, Kvitova was up a set and two games away from victory but squandered that lead to send a match to a decider. Eventually, the Serb prevailed in the tight moments of the third set to seal the win and create the landmark upset of the tournament, Kvitova is out. This was her earliest loss in Wimbledon since 2009.
In early August, shocking news emerged when the Czech was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Given the symptoms of the illness, it could finally help explain the exhaustion and sore throat she had experienced earlier. "Of course I still feel tired and a little bit sleepy, I don't know if it's the jetlag or this thing (mononucleosis). I will try my best for sure. We are making the schedule smart with the practicing so I'm hoping it will be fine soon," Kvitova said in an interview before the Rogers Cup in Toronto kicked off.
US Open series
Since she had passed the contagious stage, the Czech southpaw was given the green light to play. She competed in Toronto and Cincinnati but left both tournaments winless. However, things took a turn for the better when she won the Connecticut Open. As such, she completed a title defence for the first time in her career and adds a third New Haven trophy in the last four years to her cabinet.
At the US Open, Kvitova defied the odds by reaching her first quarterfinal at the event, completing the sweep of quarterfinal appearances at all four Grand Slams despite having struggled with the humid conditions of New York City in the past due to her asthma. There, she succumbed to eventual champion Flavia Pennetta in three sets.
The 2015 Asian swing was the polar opposite of the previous year, Kvitova failed to win back-to-back matches in both Wuhan and Beijing. Nevertheless, she secured her spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore courtesy of strong results prior. Despite finishing the round robin stage with a losing record, she made it to the semifinals where she beat Sharapova in straight sets to set up a final clash with Radwanska. Kvitova however could not repeat her 2011 magic when she lost the tight three-set battle to the crafty Pole.
During the Fed Cup final where Czech Republic went up against Russia, Kvitova went 1-1 in singles but the Czechs clawed out their way to victory in the end via the decisive doubles rubber. It was their fourth Fed Cup title in five years.
Despite struggling with illness for most of 2015, Kvitova still did a commendable job of finishing a fifth straight year inside the top 10 at number six. Her 2015 record stood at 38-17 and she racked in a further three titles.
During the off-season, she took part in an exhibition event, Tennis Champions Slovakia held in Bratislava, Slovakia. Other notable attendees included Australian legend and fellow Wimbledon champion Pat Cash along with home girl Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
Perhaps one of the best things that could happen to Kvitova who had a tough season of 2015 is her engagement to Meidl. The couple officially confirmed this news in December.
Kvitova was also named world's sixth highest-paid female athlete of 2015 by Forbes. The list also included fellow colleagues Sharapova, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Woznaicki. She was ranked fifth amongst her tennis peers.
2016 in a nutshell
Kvitova’s 2016 record currently stands at 6-8. She began her season in Shenzhen once again. Having looked poised to make up for lost time after a dire Asian swing last year, things took a hit when she caught a stomach bug and was forced to retire down a set against Zheng Saisai in her opening match of the year. She then withdrew from Sydney due to the illness, thus not being able to defend her title.
At the Australian Open, she beat Luksika Kumkhum for her first win of the year but was then dumped out in the second round by an inspired Daria Gavrilova in a match where she struggled having not played any matches entering the tournament. Her ranking fell to number nine after the Australian Open, her lowest since September 2013. She then announced her break-up from long-time coach David Kotyza because her game was not improving.
Kvitova had an excellent 26-8 record in Fed Cup matches entering Czech Republic’s opening round tie against Romania. However, it did not help her turn her bad start to 2016 around when she lost both her singles rubbers, something that had never happened before in her career. The Czechs however secured a semifinal spot for the third straight year by brushing the opposition aside in the decisive doubles rubber.
After a puzzling loss in her opening match against Madison Brengle in Dubai having been up a set (bagel) and a break all along, Kvitova finally won her second match of the year in Doha, beating Barbora Strycova. This however preceded a three-set loss to eventual finalist Jelena Ostapenko.
Kvitova then won back-to-back matches for the first time since the US Open last fall when she reached the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open last month. She beat Danka Kovinic, Johanna Larsson and Nicole Gibbs en route before falling to Radwanska in an erratic performance. A third round loss to Ekaterina Makarova in Miami however does not come as a total surprise given the humidity in the Floridian city which has never been in Kvitova’s favour.
Her next scheduled tournament will be the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart which begins in less than a week where she will look end her two match losing streak there and perhaps ultimately a seven-month title drought.
Just yesterday, Kvitova announced that she will be working with Frantisek Cermak until the end of the season having gone the past two months coachless.
Petra Kvitova endured one of the toughest starts to a season ever but could winning back-to-back matches in Indian Wells finally get the 2016 train going? The Czech had just won just ten of her last 24 matches dating back to the Wuhan Open last fall. Moreover, with a new coach in Cermak, could the talented southpaw finally start to achieve the results she rightfully deserves?
With Kvitova, you never know which side of her will show up in matches but its never too late to make reparations since the end of the season is still a long way to go. If she rediscovers her form, she may find herself winning titles soon enough and perhaps another Grand Slam crown once again and ultimately reach her long-time goal of world number one.