After a mid-season layoff of almost two months, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is back on the WTA circuit after a successful weekend at Fed Cup. In her pre-Stuttgart sit-down with the press, the Czech star talked about the team competition, her decision to take a conscious break before Indian Wells, and how she feels about the upcoming clay season.
“It’s a little bit different coming back, it’s not the beginning of the season – but it feels for me a little bit like it.”
Early in March, Petra Kvitova made the somewhat surprising announcement that she would to skip Premier Mandatories in Indian Wells and Miami. Eight weeks later, the Czech is playing her first WTA tournament since Doha in February and opened up about what triggered the exhaustion that led her to miss two of the biggest tournaments of the season.
“I felt like my last season didn’t finish, I had only two weeks off. It was the 4th or 5th year I’m really doing this kind of stuff, and we are playing final of the Fed Cup — so it’s always a little bit longer season than normally. In the beginning of the season it was OK, but in the Sydney, I started to feel these weird symptoms — that I was playing but not really feeling any excitement.
“It was really tough for me, I was feeling really empty.”
Talking with coach David Kotyza revealed that he saw a similar problem: his charge was looking burnt out on court.
“I’m glad I took the break, had a really nice time off and didn’t think about tennis. I really enjoyed that time. I didn’t have really proper holidays [this year] so for me, it was great to just lie on the beach and get a little bit of the sun tan. I’m really glad I’ve been somewhere, and not in the same environment every time, so it was very nice.”
Kvitova had previously written in a BBC blog of a struggle to decide whether to take time off, opening up a little more about the decision making process on Tuesday.
“From Dubai, I was moving to Doha. David didn’t go with me and he texted me about this idea to have a break. For me it was really big shock; I didn’t expect this, and for me it’s really tough. I’m a little probably like the Germans — you have to be on schedule — and so, that’s me as well. And I’m feeling badly when I’m not doing what I should.
“So it took me a while for sure.”
A Fed Cup stalwart, the Czech has hardly sat out a tie in the past few years, and was a member of the winning team in three of the past four years. The chance to play against France for a place in the final was one Kvitova wouldn’t pass up.
“I love to represent my country. It’s an honor for me [since I was a] kid, and I always like to play the team competitions (in) the Czech Republic — the same in the Fed Cup. We are glad that we have so many good players, so really it’s not about me — it’s about the team, and we have a great team spirit as well. So all week when we are getting ready for the weekend, it’s really a lot of fun and we are not getting bored at all.”
Even though Fed Cup has cut her off-season short on several occasions, the World No. 4 insisted and echoed Andrea Petkovic’s stance on Monday — the team competition will almost always have a place in her calendar.
“I like the challenges and after this break it was tougher, more than before for sure. I’m glad that we won and we are playing the final again.”
In the run up to the semifinal tie in Ostrava, Kvitova picked up a racquet to training again in late March, and was happy to feel excited to return.
“I was really tired from everything: the traveling, the tennis, the competing, from the hotels and stuff like this. That’s something I don’t like, because I really love to play tennis and so these feelings were really weird. But the few days before I had to have a racquet in my hand again, I was really looking forward.”
For the clay court swing, the Czech tried to keep expectations low, explaining that she aims to first get back into the rhythm by getting a couple of matches under her belt.
“I’m trying from the beginning not to put too much pressure on myself, because I really don’t know how it’s going to be: the emotions and preparation, how it will go. I hope that I will get used to the clay a little bit quicker, and it will be much better soon.
“And, of course, I need some matches. I hope it’s going to be better than before I did the break.”
In her first match in Stuttgart, the two-time Wimbledon champion is going to face either American Madison Brengle or Italy’s Alberta Brianti.
What do you make of Kvitova’s break from the WTA and return? Sound off in the comments!