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Inspired by Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova sets sights on the No.1 ranking

836   //    06 Nov 2016, 23:10 IST
Petra Kvitova (left) with Steffi Graf after receiving the WTA Elite Trophy from the German legend at Zhuhai, China on Sunday.
Petra Kvitova (left) with Stefanie Graf after receiving the WTA Elite Trophy from the German legend at Zhuhai, China on Sunday.

The 2016 tennis season has been dotted with lots of feel-good stories and Angelique Kerber and Andy Murray’s incredible rise to the World No. 1 rankings stand out amongst them. At the beginning of the year, it was still a distant dream for both Murray and Kerber. 

Both trailed the reigning No. 1s on their respective Tours – Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams – by a long margin. Yet that did not deter them from their pursuit of scaling the summit.

Through sheer dedication and perseverance, the Briton and the German did the improbable by usurping the dominant No. 1s to engrave their names in history. 

It is no wonder that they will inspire their peers to follow their examples and realize their own dreams. 

Petra Kvitova is one such player who is looking up to both of them to fulfill her yet-to-achieve goals. The Czech southpaw has two glittering Wimbledon titles on her resume but she has never been to the pinnacle of the world rankings. She has been as high as No. 2 and was very close to wresting away the top spot from Caroline Wozniacki back in early 2012.

But she squandered that opportunity and it still remains a glaring miss till date. 

The Czech, who ended her 2016 season on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Elina Svitolina en route to her 19th career title at the WTA Elite Trophy tournament in Zhuhai, China, has admitted that she still has the numero uno ranking as one of her targets. It was a forgettable season for the Czech for the better part of the year, mired in early losses and two splits with coaches.

It was only in October that she started showing the missing sparks when she embarked on the Chinese swing. She won the title at Wuhan and followed it up by making it to the final at Luxembourg before finally finishing it off as a winner in Zhuhai.

She might be down to the 13th place in the rankings currently but her recent spate of successful results proves that the leftie is very much rejuvenated and re-motivated. With a resurgent end-of-season, Kvitova is feeling very confident heading into 2017 and that is evident from her post-match interaction with the media.


Goal of getting to the No. 1 ranking keeps Kvitova going

She clearly cited the No. 1 as one of her biggest goals now after seeing how Kerber and Murray made the seemingly daunting task look possible. She confessed that it is the desire to be the best is what keeps her going.

“I’m pretty relaxed right now, but, yes, I think I the No. 1 spot is still missing in my career, have to say”, said Kvitova. 

“I think that without that goal I probably don’t play tennis anymore. I still have a motivation to play better, to improve myself on the court, off the court, to win some tournaments, Grand Slams, and of course with that I’m going to try to be the highest I ever been. I know how difficult it is. We just saw how Angie did it. It’s a great thing to have for sure.”

On being asked if she congratulated Murray after the Wimbledon and Olympic champion became the first British man to ascend to No. 1 on Saturday, the 26-year-old heaped praise on the three-time Grand Slam winner.

“Yeah, I said (to) him congratulations because I think it’s a great achievement. I think he did everything what is possible to be there, so I’m really happy for him.”

Kvitova admits to rediscovering her game

Petra also went on to talk about rediscovering her game in the last couple of months. The renewed confidence has helped her shed her on-court fear and she is admittedly playing more freely, something that was very much lacking at the start of the season.

“These couple of matches that I’ve won in the last couple of weeks have really helped my confidence. I did find myself, and that means I’ve found my game again. I’m not afraid to go for my shots, even if I miss them sometimes. I’m still trying to go for it, serve better, and put pressure on my opponent. That’s something I don’t think I was really doing at the start of the season.”

Fed Cup final next up for Kvitova

Kvitova will now head home to Prague briefly before she joins the Czech Fed Cup team in Strasbourg, France where the Czech Republic will aim to win their fifth title in six years. The final is scheduled from November 12-13.

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A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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