Petra Kvitova has had a stellar 2018, winning a tour-leading five titles, including a successful defense of her title in Birmingham. This has prompted her coach Jiri Vanek to label her as "one of the favorites" heading into Wimbledon, where the Czech has won twice.
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"Winning Wimbledon would be emotional"
Vanek, coach of the two-time Wimbledon champion for the last 18 months, said that "of course, [winning this summer's Wimbledon] would be emotional, if she can do it". He cautioned that "a player can't think about it because otherwise there's too much stress and you get too tight."
While he feels "for sure, in her mind there's probably this kind of movie, and that story would be great," he knows he has a job to do: "as her coach, I always try to prepare her by saying she needs to stay focused for every match. Don't think too far ahead as otherwise you're going to have problems."
Vanek feels Kvitova "not the favorite" to win Wimbledon
"I don't think that's a fair [reflection of the contenders]. It's still just a year and a half since what happened to Petra [when she was attacked by a knife-wielding home intruder], and she's still not 100 per cent back to how she was before. We're working hard and going step by step, and match by match," said Vanek.
"For sure, she always needs to handle this pressure, and she is always going to be one of the favorites for grass. She needs to put the pressure away from herself and then she needs to enjoy playing her tennis".
He knows the condition Kvitova needs to be in to contend:"When she's enjoying her tennis, and playing her best, then she could be one of the favorites."
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Two-time Wimbledon champion "always happy to be on grass"
"Of course, Petra likes grass. She's always happy when she comes back on grass. You can see that she starts to smile. From the first practice, she is smiling. For me, it seems as though Petra was born on the grass," was how Vanek put it.
After her left hand was damaged with deep cuts following a horrific home attack in her apartment in 2016, her coach is saying "Petra is taking care of herself and she's enjoying playing tennis even more. Now she knows what's important for her is her life."
Trying to keep her positive, Vanek said"we try to smile every day and we try to have fun every day. That's the way she can enjoy her tennis, and the way she can play her best tennis. She's had good results so far this year and I hope she can have good results at Wimbledon."
While"every month, Petra's hand is better", Vanek concedes "it's probably never going to be 100 per cent like it was before. But maybe there are some shots that she can play now that she couldn't before as she is holding the racquet a little differently to before".
According to him, Kvitova is getting used to playing with how her hand feels even if it's not discussed: "She's not thinking about how the hand is the whole time, and that's not something we talk about within the team. This is life. You have to take it as it is - she goes into every match, and plays her best."