The Autumnal Warrior

Saturday, September 28, 2013 /by

Is there a better symbol for the fall season than Petra Kvitova proudly lofting the Tokyo trophy after her back-to-back wins over resurgent Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber?

Kvitova’s win, her first since February (Dubai), will nudge her back into the Top 10. It may seem like too-little, too-late for those who expected the towering 23-year old from the Czech Republic to be a powerful force in the game this year, or even since she won Wimbledon as a relatively unknown in 2011. But it also seems appropriate that she would pop onto the radar again in this, the lost season when WTA players are either glutted with success and MIA, or scrambling to beef up tarnished reputations and falling rankings.

Following her wildly unpredictable 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 triumph over Germany’s Angelique Kerber, Kvitova told WTA correspondents, “In the first set I was attacking every ball and hitting so many winners, but in the beginning of the second set I made some easy mistakes and felt slower in my legs, and that's what Angie was waiting for.”

Some observers might put that abrupt loss of form in the second set down to the toll taken on Kvitova in the semis by 33-year old Venus Williams, who fell just short of advancing to the final in a bruising affair eventually won by Kvitova, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2). Others, though, will just roll their eyes and think, “typical Petra. . .”

Is there any player on either tour today more expert at utterly losing the plot in a match or even a tournament? Or, it’s beginning to seem, a career?

It makes sense, albeit only in a perverse way, that Kvitova would pop up now as the WTA is growing dark. But perhaps  she’s not quite as volcanic as we think. Some equipment and clothing contracts do contain incentive clauses linked to rankings and results, but I hurry to add that I have no idea what Kvitova’s might be.

But in all fairness, Kvitova does have some history as an (plant tongue firmly in cheek as you repeat this in your mind) “autumnal warrior.” She made the best run of her career in the fall of 2011, after a disappointing hard-court season, and came close to earning the No. 1 ranking early in 2012 after winning in 2011 at Linz and the WTA Championships.

It may sound like a harsh judgment, but it makes a certain amount of sense that Kvitova would find her game at this time of year. She’s a day late and a dollar short, but that’s become par for the course in the career of this baffling, erratic, but undeniably talented left-hander.

Lest you write off the fall results with a shrug, keep in mind that are up-sides, too. Wasn’t it a delight to see Venus William do so well in Tokyo, slashing her way to the semis with quality wins over No. 2 (and top-seeded) Victoria Azarenka and No. 13 seed Simona Halep?

Sure the fall taketh away, but it giveth as well.


If you enjoy reading Pete Bodo at TENNIS.com, you might also be interested in his latest novel, The Reckoning. A revised version of this father-son story set in the Rocky Mountains has just been issued by e-publisher Diversion Books. Click here for more on this grand adventure tale, or to download the book.

 

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