Saturday, October 1, 2016

Scary Petra rampages through Wuhan

Today, Petra Kvitova won her second Wuhan title, giving her 18 titles for her career. The Barking Czech hadn't won a title in over a year, and her return to her dear friend Li Na's home city inspired her in such a way that an observer was reminded of Kvitova's 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon campaigns. This was Scary Petra, who doesn't let an opponent--even an elite opponent--into the match, so overpowering is her dominance.

The physically fragile Kvitova complained of being tired, and after her epic 3rd round match with world number 1 Angelique Kerber, it seemed a given that the Czech star wasn't going to get through the quarterfinals. Holding three match points at the end of the match, Kvitova started cramping, and that  leg cramp meant that she could not convert. Yet somehow, on her seventh match point, Kvitova prevailed in this three-hour and 20-minute beauty of a match.

Having already beaten nemesis upstart Jelena Ostapenko, Elina Svitolina and Johanna Konta, Kvitova was already showing great strength by the time she got to Kerber. And then, despite her fatigue, she showed up at her semifinal match and thumped Simona Halep, of all people, 6-1, 6-2. Nothing to it. Scary Petra.

In the final, Kvitova made short work of beating Dominika Cibulkova (6-1, 6-1), and Cibulkova wasn't exactly playing poorly.

Where did this Kvitova come from, and why do we see her so rarely? The Barking Czech had some very candid things to say after the tournament:

These remarks didn't go over well with some fans, who considered them to reflect a defeatist, even apathetic, attitude. I heard them as Petra's characteristic unguarded honesty. And I also thought they had a tinge of sadness. I've said for some time that Kvitova's physical issues--chronic infections and asthma--could probably be addressed in a more successful way than they are currently being addressed. I could be wrong about this, but my instinct feels just right.

Also, whatever psychological assistance (if any) the Czech star is getting is obviously not the kind she needs. Kvitova worked for eight years with David Kotyza, who obviously coached her to greatness. But it's doubtful that she could have shown much vulnerability to a man who publicly stated that he could coach her "because she isn't like a girl." It was quite telling that in her trophy acceptance speech, Kvitova apologized for WTA players being women and "difficult." Until female players feel comfortable with being women and hire only personnel who respect them as women, a lot of problems aren't going to get solved.

Kvitova will now move to a ranking of number 11 in the world. She is 18-4 since her bronze medal run in Rio.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova won the doubles title, defeating Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova in the final. In doing so, they qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore.


Anonymous said...

i read the article on the WTA site and heard the trophy speech. it really bothered me. and though you say it is petra being honest, it does not demonstrate a fighting attitude that i like to see in athletes. the top players all talk about getting better, working on their games etc. even the sometimes fragile halep has found her way to a coach who she feels comfortable with and actually did well by herself in wuhan until running into kvitova. so to hear a former top player and a top player at her best talk this way is not what i want to personally hear. even if she needs help or is not getting the right help, as you say, time is running out and she seems resigned to sometimes having a good run and sometimes not. i hate to say this and it may be taken the wrong way but i feel there is something missing between the ears. there is something missing in her eyes when she is not playing well. there is not fight but resignation. i don't know, the interview was strange. i love her game when she is on but one would hope she would also find pleasure in her game and in winning. if she is resigned to the fact that she will just not play well, then for an athlete, i don't know what that really means. sometimes my mind goes back to when she could have grabbed the no 1 spot at the 2012 aussie open. she, azarenka or sharapova all had the chance. but i didn't feel she was fighting for it.

Diane said...

There have been signs, for years, that something is wrong. Maybe I picked up on them because of my professional interests. But the signs were there. I don't want to go into them out of respect for her privacy. Such a great athlete, great sportswoman, wicked sense of humor. It makes me sad to see her this way.