Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova believes she has what it takes to regain the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title she surrendered last year to Venus Williams.
After enjoying a fruitful 2014 campaign that saw her win her second Grand Slam crown at the All England Club, the Czech left-hander recharged her batteries by spending time on the beach in Dubai before preparing for the new season. And she has made a great start, reaching the Shenzhen semi-finals and then lifting the 15th trophy of her career in Sydney before running into a red-hot Madison Keys in Melbourne.
“Petra Kvitova has proved she can succeed at the highest level, and only the very best are able to become multiple Grand Slam champions,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organizers. “It is with great pleasure that we welcome her back to Dubai to compete for one of the most sought-after titles in tennis against five other Grand Slam winners in Serena and Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova.”
Kvitova credits a recent addition to her coaching team for her outstanding form this year, and was full of praise even before the new season began.
“My new fitness coach Alex Stober has been absolutely great,” she said. “He has a lot of experience and he knows what to do, and he arrived with a very specific plan to make me stronger and faster on court. It’s also great that he is a physio as well because he knows exactly how a tennis player’s body is working.”
Kvitova’s highlight of last season was winning her second Wimbledon title, adding to the one she claimed in 2011. Back then it was overwhelming and she wasn’t able to enjoy the experience to the full, but the second time around she knew what to expect and was able to savour the moment.
“The first time I won Wimbledon I didn’t really celebrate because everything just happened so quickly,” she said. “This time I managed to have a couple of glasses of champagne back at the house with my team, but then I was so tired that I still ended up going to bed early. To tell you the truth, I did not sleep well during the second week of Wimbledon so my mind and body were really exhausted and ready to crash.
“On Sunday, I had a fun day shopping in London and bought myself some earrings as a special present, and then it was time to get ready for the Wimbledon ball. They bring in a stylist and the dressing room downstairs at the All England Club is full of dresses to choose from. I picked a classic black and white ball gown and then had my hair and make-up done. It was so much fun to have a girly day.
“The ball was at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and it was such a beautiful location. I went with all my team and it was so nice to see them dressed in black tie with big smiles on their faces. I was a bit nervous about doing the speech in front of everyone but it went pretty well and I think I did a good job with my English.
“We got home around 2am and then had to get up at 7am to finish packing up the house and then catch our flight home to the Czech Republic. I carried my trophy with me on the flight and we had a lot of fun taking pictures and celebrating some more.”
Following her second Wimbledon victory Kvitova went on to win titles in New Haven and Wuhan and reach the final in Beijing, before climaxing her season by winning the decisive rubber as she led the Czech Republic to its third Fed Cup title in four years.
Now, with her new season firmly underway, she is looking forward to her return to the scene of one of her many career triumphs.
“The crowd and the atmosphere here is very nice,” she said. “I’m enjoying every moment on the centre court and on the tournament, sure. The hotel, it’s pretty close and it’s so easy. When I played at 7:00 I was until 5:30 in the room and lying in the bed so that was really nice. I was just two minutes to on-site. I think that’s very helpful and that’s great. The organisation, everything was easy. The girls at the organisation desk were so nice. Everything was great.”
But, with three opening match defeats in her previous four outings at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, she knows she must be in top form right from the start if she is to repeat her 2013 march to the title.
“A first round here is like playing the quarter-finals of other tournaments,” she said. “I’m not saying that in other tournaments we don’t have to be ready for the first round, but here if you are not 100 percent it will be difficult.”
Kvitova will face a daunting challenge as she tries to overcome a field that is as tough as any she has had to tackle at the Grand Slams.
“As well as seven top 10 players in addition to herself in the draw, Petra Kvitova also faces defending champion Venus Williams and former champions Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, as well as the reigning US and Australian Open winner Serena Williams,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak. “She has been equal to the task before though, and it will be interesting to see if she can carry the confidence she has gained from another excellent start to the season forward to another victory here.”
Play in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begins with the WTA event, which takes place between 15th and 21st February. Play then continues between 23rd and 28th February with the action-packed ATP tournament featuring world number one and Australian Open inner Novak Djokovic, defending Dubai champion Roger Federer, Australian Open finalist Andy Murray and recent two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai..
Tickets for the event are available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand tickets can also be bought online at http://www.timeouttickets.com/. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.