Monday, 7 September 2009

Spotlight On ... Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova reached the fourth round of Roland Garros in 2009 (like her qualifying compatriot Petra Cetkovska) with wins over top 20 player Agnes Szavay, Samantha Stosur and Akiko Morigami, before losing to Kaia Kanepi.

The nineteen-year-old Czech comes from Fulnek, and was ranked 87 (a career-high) going into the tournament. She had a lot of success on the ITF circuit (five ITF titles in the last couple of years), but she is no stranger to success on the WTA tour too. In February 2009, she got to the second round of WTA Paris, again beating Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain, before bowing out to Elena Dementieva. She qualified for WTA Memphis in the same month and defeated top seed Venus Williams in the first round. This was her first win over a top 20 player – not bad for someone who had only played four matches on the WTA circuit (including that match)! She was ranked 143, and currently holds the record for the lowest ranked player to beat Venus. She got her second win over a top 20 player when she defeated Israel’s Shahar Peer in a Fed Cup match earlier this year. She reached the second round in WTA Strasbourg just before Roland Garros, but it was in Paris that her results really caught the eye.

After Roland Garros, Petra suffered first round exits at WTA Birmingham and Wimbledon. She rebounded in WTA Budapest, where she reached the quarter-finals, but that was followed by second round exits in WTA Los Angeles and WTA Montreal (l. to top seed Ana Ivanovic) and a first round exit at the US Open. On the ITF circuit, she reached the quarter-finals in Sofia, and rounded off her 2008 season with quarter-final showings in WTA Zurich (l. to 2nd seed Ana Ivanovic) and an ITF tournament in Bratislava (l. to 8th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova).

Her 2009 season got off to an impressive start with a title win in Hobart, beating 7th seed Alona Bondarenko along the way. Early exits at the Australian Open (l. to 13th Victoria Azarenka), Paris (l. to Karolina Sprem) and Dubai (l. to Julia Schruff). She regained some form in Indian Wells with a third round appearance (l. to 4th seed Vera Zvonareva), but suffered more early exits in Miami (l. to Sabine Lisicki), Barcelona (l. to 2nd seed Flavia Pennetta), Estoril (l. to Yanina Wickmayer), Madrid (l. to Francesca Schiavone) and Wimbledon (l. to Maria Kirilenko). Moving onto the clay, she notched up a string of second round exits in Bastad (l. to top seed Caroline Wozniacki), Prague (l. to Zarina Diyas) and Portoroz (l. to Camille Pin), and on the hard courts, Toronto (l. to 9th seed Maria Kirilenko). Stepping down to the ITF circuit for some confidence, she lost early in Bronx (l. to Anastasija Sevastova).

These results made her impressive run at the US Open all the more surprising. Petra is currently in the fourth round (matching her run at Roland Garros last year) with wins over 27th seed Alisa Kleybanova and top seed Dinara Safina. She takes on Yanina Wickmayer, another of the Tour's rising stars, for a place in the quarter-finals.

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