Carla Suarez Navarro, with her heavy topspin and her impressive one-handed backhand, has been known to confound more than one top player. Yesterday, the Spaniard went after Australian Open 2nd seed Petra Kvitova, who proceeded to obviously (Chris Evert, she isn't) unravel before spectators' eyes. Kvitova easily won the first set 6-2, but then Suarez Navarro became more aggressive, her shot-making became rhythically accurate, and Kvitova became a mess.
When people are under stress, they tend to regress to older, less desirable, behavior. Kvitova is a case study in this type of regression: When she is in panic mode, she returns to the wild-swinging, "hit a winner at all costs" type of play that used to be her downfall. Her forehand tends to break down. And her feet either freeze or appear to be tangled on the court. The thing is, Kvitova can put spin on the ball, she can move as deftly as she needs to--but she stops doing these things when her fear takes over.
After taking the second set 6-2, Suarez Navarro proceeded to break Kvitova and go up 2-0. And just when it appeared she was about to go up 3-0--when Kvitova's facial expression was that of a woman with no answers--the Czech player began to use good sense. She stopped the wild swinging, slowed down her game, and calmed down enough to find her serve. When that happened, her confidence returned, too, and she won the set 6-4.
After the match, Kvitova acknowledged that, though her high-risk game means that she makes a lot of errors, "I made many, many mistakes." She said, in so many words, that she realized she had to lower her margin of error.
It's to her credit that Petra Kvitova found a way to get herself out of a second round crash. Her comeback was, in fact, impressive. The 2011 Player of the Year said just recently that winning as an "outsider" was much easier than winning as the world number 2. Sounds like it's time to book a coffee date with Billie Jean King.