Double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is always a name to watch out for at the oldest Grand Slam tournament in the world. It is also the biggest tournament played on grass, the Czech’s self-declared most favourite surface.
However, the odds currently could seem to be going against Kvitova after having a rough start in 2016. The Czech has yet to lift a trophy since August last year at the Connecticut Open in New Haven. Will Wimbledon be the turning point where things take a 180-degree turn for the better in Kvitova’s favour?
2016 results to date
A stomach bug which the Czech caught in her opening tournament of the year in Shenzhen spoiled her start to the season. She scored just two wins out of her first six matches through January and February which included a second round loss in the hands of Daria Gavrilova at the Australia Open and a winless streak while on Fed Cup duty against Romania. She then went on to win just one match in the Dubai-Doha duo in February.
Kvitova looked to have finally started to turn her season around when she made the quarterfinals of Indian Wells and the semifinals of Stuttgart in March and April respectively. These two results remain her best of 2016 so far.
Throughout May, the Czech’s form looked to have dipped once again. After failing to defend her Mutua Madrid Open title, she exited in the opening round in Rome after being outhit by eventual finalist Madison Keys.
She then suffered a shocking and upsetting three-set loss in the hands of 108th-ranked Shelby Rogers in the third round of the French Open. The Czech failed to win a game in the two sets she lost. It was Kvitova’s first loss to a player outside the top 100 since the 2014 US Open where she fell to Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic in the same round. The Serb was ranked number 145 at that time.
Best grass result leading to Wimbledon
Kvitova played grass warm-up events of Birmingham and Eastbourne. She, however, managed just one win in each tournament. First up in Birmingham, she was made little work of compatriot Lucie Safarova but then fell to Jelena Ostapenko in three sets. It was Kvitova’s second loss to the Latvian after Doha earlier in the year.
In Eastbourne, after a first round bye, she beat Timea Babos and faced local hope Johanna Konta for spot in the last eight. Kvitova fell to the Brit in three sets, receiving a bagel from her opponent in the deciding set after an increasingly erratic and error-strewn performance. With her right thigh strapped, the Czech did mention that the niggling thigh injury troubled her in her match against Konta, she enters Wimbledon with some injury concerns.
The two Wimbledon titles in 2011 (her first Grand Slam title) and 2014 were Kvitova’s highlight of the tournament. Other than that, she made the semifinals in 2010 (her first Grand Slam semifinal) and the quarterfinals in 2012 and 2013.
This meant she had made five straight quarterfinals beginning 2010. The streak however, came to an end last year when Kvitova, as the defending champion, was dumped out in the third round by former world number one Jelena Jankovic in three sets.
Since her first appearance in 2008, Kvitova has compiled an overall 28-6 (82 percent) tournament record. There is no doubt Wimbledon is the Czech’s best Grand Slam to date. Moreover, it is the only Grand Slam tournament where she has appeared in the quarterfinals or better more than once.
|2008||First round (lost to Tatiana Perebiynis)|
|2009||First round (lost to Maria Kirilenko)|
|2010||Semifinal (lost to Serena Williams)|
|2011||Won (defeated Maria Sharapova in the final)|
|2012||Quarterfinal (lost to Serena Williams)|
|2013||Quarterfinal (lost to Kirsten Flipkens)|
|2014||Won (defeated Eugenie Bouchard in the final)|
|2015||Third round (lost to Jelena Jankovic)|
How Kvitova’s game translates to the surface
Kvitova’s powerful and flat groundstrokes no doubt jibes with the green lawns where the bounce of the ball is kept minimum. This will allow her to take control and dominate points and even come to the net to finish them off.
Moreover, she is left-handed (not everyone is a lefty), an essential weapon, most notably on serve whereby she adds slice and likes to serve it out wide. This works in her favour even more so when she is serving to the ad-court, to her opponent’s backhand. On return, she would not cease to produce a winner down the line especially on weak second serves.
A typical Kvitova point where most have seen will be a serve out wide followed by a winner down the other side. A game style tactically sound and tailor-made for grass.
She also possesses variety and commendable net skills especially her drop shots. Although the Czech has seemed to have shied away from coming to the net often past couple of years, under the guidance of new coach Frantisek Cermak, it is evident that she has begun employing her net game once again.
A weak area of her game where opponents may want to take advantage of is with regards to her movement. However, she has improved in this aspect over the years and now with a fitter body frame, it has allowed her to move better on the court.