Little sad: Kvitova d Safarova; Muguruza clips Kerber at WTA Final


Kvitova reacts during WTA Finals match. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

SINGAPORE – Petra Kvitova has had a difficult season. At the beginning of the year, it looked like she has a serious shot to become No. 1 for the first time. But once again, she dealt with injuries and she has been up and down ever since.

But on Wednesday at the WTA Finals, she took down her very good friend, Lucie Safarova, 7-5 7-5.   She was not perfect by any means, but she was forceful and she never became angry when she missed a few shots. The stronger lefty out-hit Safarova at the end, going hard at the white lines.

Kvitova will have to watch some tape in the next two days, as she will have to face Garbine Muguruza on Friday, who out-muscled Angie Kerber 6-4 6-4. The two have never met before, and Kvitova doesn’t want the 22-year-old to push her out of the event. The vets can cheer for them, but they don’t want them to beat them anytime soon.

When Kvitova was asked how difficult it was on court against Safarova, her eyes began to grow dark. Those two have known each other since 2007, when Kvitova was only 17 years old and Safarova was 20. Both had a tremendous amount of talent, but both had a long way to go. Now, they are much mature, which helps them on court, but it’s not easy to see her friend go down. On Wednesday, Kvitova and Safarova hugged each other, but it was hard to smile.

“Before the match we have the same locker room and we were just chatting normally, not like we go to play each other soon,” Kvitova said. “She’s good person and it’s just kind of sad that we have to play each other in the group already. We actually are good friend from the Fed Cup, so I’m really glad the Fed Cup is coming soon and we going to be colleagues and not opponents. It’s tough to play her for sure, not because she’s only like very good player right now, she’s in good form, but also playing friend it’s a little bit tougher with emotional and everything. So it’s not easy to handle all these kind of stuff.”

Kvitova is now 1-1 at the WTA Finals, falling against Kerber on Monday and beating Safarova. She has won the title before and although she is unsure if her body will feel A-Okay the rest of the fortnight, if she gets on the run, she has a legitimate chance.

“I feel tired right now. I think in the first match I was kind of probably nervous from the beginning of the match and I couldn’t really play what I wanted,” she said. “Today from the beginning I really was trying to be there and be focused on each point. Lucie know me well, so that’s why probably it was in my mind somewhere to be ready from the beginning. I know it’s like the final, this match. If I lost I’m probably going home soon. So I was really trying to, what I can.”

Muguruza is on a roll now. As the story goes, after she reached the final at Wimbledon, she began confused, as the fans were swarming at her for the first time as they had finally knew whom she was. She let go her coach and for about two months, she fell apart.

But in Asia, she had brought in a new coach, Sam Sumyk, was calm and composed and ready to rip it. A couple of weeks ago, she won Beijing, her first Premier 5. Any time she has a decent shot, she leaps. The 6-foot Muguruza is a very big hitter and given that she also plays doubles, she is pretty efficient at the net.

Kvitova is already impressed. If the Spaniard plays extremely well, she has a decent shot of taking down the two-time champion Kvitova.

“I think that she’s going to play very aggressively; going for the shots; have a good serve,” Kvitova said.“So I think I am going to play the same what I should play. It’s going to be about the returns and the serves. I know how she’s playing well right now. She had a great success in Asia as well. It’s going to be difficult match for sure. I’m looking forward. I never played her, so we see.”