Petra Kvitova: “Definitely was one of the best matches what I played” - UBITENNIS
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Petra Kvitova: “Definitely was one of the best matches what I played”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 5th of July. P. Kvitova d. E. Bouchard 6-3, 6-0. An interview with Petra Kvitova

 

Q. Is that the best match you’ve ever played in your life?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, it seems like, right? Definitely was one of the best matches what I played.

I knew that I could play well on the grass, but I really played so well today. I exactly know what I have to play to beat her.

I just did really everything what I could in the moment. I was very focused for every point. I knew that I have to go forward for every shot what I’m playing to push her.

Yeah, I did it.

 

Q. Over the last three years what did you imagine it would be like if you got this chance again, and what was it like for you?

PETRA KVITOVA: No, I wasn’t really imagining this situation again. I was still believing in me that I can really have it for a second time, some Grand Slam. I don’t want to think about the Wimbledon again, but I want it really too much.

I really couldn’t imagine what this mean. For me, probably I know a little bit more right now about that, what it’s mean for me, how the feelings are and everything. I mean, it was certainly great journey for me here.

 

Q. What does it mean?

PETRA KVITOVA: It’s mean everything, definitely. I mean, it’s a Wimbledon. Tennis here is tennis history. The Centre Court always great to play on. I feel really like at home.

I mean, you know, I was really up and down after my title here 2011. I was still work hard, believe in myself. My team believed in me as well.

We did good job and I’m just glad I have it for a second time.

 

Q. Are we seeing the dawning of the age of Petra, many Grand Slams to come? No pressure.

PETRA KVITOVA: Thank you. I feel more relaxed now (laughter).

 

Q. Did you feel like you were in the zone?

PETRA KVITOVA: Probably, definitely. I love to play finals. I love to play on the big stadium. This is something really special. I mean, it’s not feeling as a tournament for me. It’s something more, more, more.

Definitely I was in the zone, but I was still thinking it is the final and I knew the emotion. I can say it’s a little bit like a Fed Cup when I’m playing in the Czech and I feel the crowd. My stomach is a little bit funny. It just goosebumps.

Yeah, when I won the first set, I said, Okay, I still have to do the same work, but I was a little bit worry if I can really do it for all match. But I did it, yeah.

 

Q. You just said you played with more focus than you’ve probably ever played with. In the past, in the three years since you won last time, sometimes the confidence has been down. How important has your new mind coach been to changing things around?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, I’m with him already since 2010 when I reach the semifinal here. From that time I think we did very good job.

It’s never easy to handle the pressure after my first Grand Slam here. It was really difficult for me, definitely.

We did a lot of job. I was staying in the top 10 every season. Like it was big help for me definitely. I mean, we did great job. It was still more focusing on myself because sometimes I was a little bit down because of the people expectations. Yeah.

 

Q. How close were you to not playing in Wimbledon after your injury in Eastbourne?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, that moment was really difficult for me definitely. I wanted to play. Of course, I wanted to have more matches before the Wimbledon, as 2011 when I played the final over there.

In the end it was a great decision not to play, because otherwise I don’t know how is feel in the first round when I should play on Monday.

Definitely I’m glad what we did. Yeah, I’m sitting here and my leg is quite okay (smiling).

 

Q. I believe it was the quickest final in terms of time in 31 years. Are you aware of that? I believe it was Martina Navratilova who picked you by just one minute. How much would it have meant to you if you could have beaten that?

PETRA KVITOVA: I don’t know what I can say actually. I’m just glad that it was in the two sets, of course. I didn’t really check the time what we are playing.

In the end, I was quite lucky, because otherwise we should close the roof. On the end I’m really glad that I did it before.

I mean, the time is not really important. The score made it. That’s it.

 

Q. At the moment you won, what went through your mind?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, when I sit on the bench when I was 5-Love, I was like, Okay, now you can try break her; if not, you have the serve. So I was a little bit more relaxed that I have few chances to do that.

I just tried to play every point. I knew that I can again break her. Then suddenly I did a winner from the backhand. I was so happy. I didn’t really know what’s going to be there. I just had the tears in my eyes. I was so, so happy.

When I saw my box after that, it was much more special for me.

 

Q. You were talking about Martina Navratilova when you received your trophy. She was watching you today. Is your goal to be achieve more than she did?

PETRA KVITOVA: It’s not my goal definitely. I mean, it is something what I don’t think that I really can achieve. Definitely she’s great champion. She has nine titles here.

You know, it’s nice to see her in the locker room and she’s smiling and she’s happy for me. She really cheer for me. It’s really so nice to have somebody as she is.

She’s a legend. She’s really huge in the Czech. Everywhere, actually. I’m just glad that I have this huge fan.

 

Q. Your dad was crying at the end. Does he cry a lot, your dad?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, he does actually (smiling). It’s nothing new, nothing special. Actually I think everyone was crying in my box, so I think he wasn’t only one.

I was crying, as well. My dad is very emotional. I have something from him, as well. It’s my dad. He has a birthday tomorrow, so I’m just glad that he has a nice present.

 

Q. So much was written and said about Eugenie Bouchard in the buildup to this final, the coming star from Canada. Anything in your performance today that said, Don’t forget about Petra Kvitova?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think Bouchard definitely play great tournament here. I mean, she reach final as a very young girl. I know that she can be very dangerous. I did what David told me, that I have to really go for every shot, to not really give her time for her game.

Definitely she’s talented player. I think she going to be better and better if she still will work hard.

What did you ask actually (smiling)?

 

Q. My point was, your performance was so emphatic. Nobody predicted it was going to be as one-sided as it was. Was that a statement of intent, you saying, Don’t forget what Petra Kvitova can do on a tennis court?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, I think this game is something what is bring me this beautiful emotion in the moment. I’m glad how I played. She was still under the pressure and I was the player still putting the pressure on her and trying to do every point for really 100%.

Definitely I’m glad how I played. I was probably confident on the court. I hope that I can replay that again.

 

Q. Last time you won here you went on to end the year No. 2 in the rankings. Do you have ambitions to be No. 1? Would it be more important for you to win different Grand Slam titles somewhere else?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, I mean, that’s really difficult when you have some great success during the year then you bring it to the No. 1. I was pretty close to No. 1 and, I feel this is something more special, to have this Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon, than to be No. 1.

I mean, of course the No. 1 means a lot to everyone. For me, I’m just glad that I have this Grand Slam. We will see what the future brings.

I mean, it’s nice to be No. 1, for sure. I will try everything what I can to be there.

 

Q. Be totally honest now. What’s more fun, clambering up on the roof to get to your friends and family or going through that boring old gate they installed?

PETRA KVITOVA: It was really funny today, really.

 

Q. To get the box, they put the gate in. It’s not half as much fun, is it?

PETRA KVITOVA: I mean, it was nice to be there, definitely, to have hugs with them. When I saw, for example, my coach, when he was crying, I was like, Oh, my God, woman, you make me cry. C’mon. It’s not nice.

I mean, everyone was crying over there. It was beautiful to be with them.

Interviews

“We Hope to Convince Federer to Play”: the Presentation of the 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Director Zeljko Franulovic talked about next year’s tournament, scheduled from April 9-17

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Stefanos Tsitsipas - ATP Montecarlo 2021 (ph. Agence Carte Blanche / Réalis)

The 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will take place from April 9-17, so it’s difficult to guess what the pandemic situation will be in six months. At the moment, however, the prevalent hypothesis is that all spectators will need a Covid Pass or to bring proof of a negative test before being allowed in the Montecarlo Country Club at Roquebrune, France. If some players will refuse the vaccine, then they will need to be tested regularly in accordance to the rules devised by the French government.

 

Other than that, there will be no surprises when it comes to the event’s logistics, since the Country Club has already added a new players lounge and a new press room in the past few years. In 2020 the tournament was cancelled, while in 2021 it took place behind closed doors (while still being televised in 113 countries); the last edition staged with a crowd, in 2019, sold 130,000 tickets, constituting 30% of the total revenue – another 30% came from the sponsors, 30% from media rights (a number that tournament director Zeljko Franulovic hopes to see increase) and 10% from merchandising.

While it’s early days to know whether the tournament will operate at full capacity, Franulovic has made it clear that the organisers are already planning to provide a better covering for the No.2 Court, whose roof has not been at all effective in the past in the event of rain.

The tournament’s tickets can be bought on the official website of the event, but Franulovic has already vowed to reimburse immediately every ticket “if the government and the health authorities should decide to reduce the tournament’s capacity.”

Ticket prices have increased by 2 to 3 percent as compared to 2019, ranging from £25-50 for the qualifiers weekend, £32-75 for the opening rounds, £…-130 for the quarterfinals and semifinals, £65-150 for the final, £360-1250 for a nine-day tickets. Franulovic claims that the prices are in line with those of the other Masters 1000 tournaments.

Finally, Franulovic supports Andrea Gaudenzi’s decision to create a fixed prize money for the next decade. While tournaments like Madrid and Rome are trying to increase their duration from 8 to 12 days, the Monte-Carlo director has claimed that he prefers to remain a week-long event, especially because his is not a combined tournament. As for the players who will feature, Franulovic hopes to convince Roger Federer to participate: “I’m certain that he will give everything he has to be able to stage another comeback on the tour, ma no one knows where he’ll play. However, I think that on the clay he should opt for best-of-three events like Monte-Carlo and Rome rather than the French Open.”

For this and more information, you can watch the video above.

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Editorial

EXCLUSIVE: How The ATP Plans To Make The Tour More Welcoming For LGBT Players

The governing body of men’s tennis has received praise for taking a proactive approach to the topic with the help of a leading LGBTQ+ organisation and a top research university.

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Guido Pella during a Men's Singles match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Manuela Davies/USTA)

During the first week of the US Open, there was an abundance of rainbow-theme flags and wristbands worn by both players and fans to mark the tournament’s first-ever Open Pride Day.

 

The event was part of the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion strategic platform which aims to make tennis more inclusive. Unlike the women’s game, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players on the men’s Tour and there have been few historically, even though various players have spoken of their support for anybody on the Tour who decides to come out. Including Stefanos Tsitsipas and newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who were questioned about the topic following their second round matches. Meanwhile, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime revealed that there is an ongoing survey related to LGBTQ+ issues being conducted by the ATP.

“Recently I’ve started doing a survey inside the ATP about the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “It’s important these days to be aware of that and to be open-minded and the ATP needs to do that, in today’s time it’s needed.

“The reason we don’t have openly gay players on the ATP Tour, I’m not sure of the reason, but I feel me, as a player, it would be very open, very welcome. Statistically, there should be some, but for now there’s not.”

In response to Auger-Aliassime’s comment, UbiTennis looked into the work currently being done by the ATP alongside two other parties. Their decision to venture into LGBTQ+ representation on the Tour is part of their recent commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of their players and staff. Last year, in May, they formed partnerships with Headspace and Sporting Chance.  

The survey currently being conducted by the ATP started after the governing body of men’s tennis reached out to Lou Englefield, the director of Pride Sports, a UK organisation that focuses on LGBTQ+phobia in sport and aims to improve access to sport for all LGBTQ+ people. Through their connection, they contacted Eric Denison, a behavioural science researcher at Monash University’s School of Social Sciences. Denison was the lead author of the Out on the Fields study, the first international study on homophobia in sport and the largest conducted to date.

“I have been personally impressed with the initiative of the ATP and their desire to find ways to mitigate the broad impact of homophobic behaviour (in particular), not only on gay people, but on all players.” He told UbiTennis during an email exchange.

“We know of no other sporting governing body in the world that has been proactive on LGBTQ+ issues, and has taken a strong focus on engaging with both the LGBTQ+ community and scientists to find solutions.”

Denison says the norm has been for sports bodies to address this issue after they have been either pressured to do so or if the LGBTQ+ community got the ball rolling themselves. Incredibly, research conducted as part of the Out On The Fields initiative documented 30 separate studies which found sports organisations ignored discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people in sport.

Monash University has supplied the ATP with a series of scientifically validated questions, which they are using to ‘look under the hood’ at the factors which supports a culture where gay or bisexual players feel they are not welcome. The methodology is similar to a study Denison conducted in 2020 that focused specifically on the team sports rugby union and ice hockey.  

“We suspect that tennis isn’t inherently more homophobic than other sports, or traditionally male settings. Instead, there is a disconnect between people’s attitudes towards gay people (e.g. the recent pro-gay comments by top players) and their behaviour, specifically their use of homophobic banter and jokes,” said Denison.

“This behaviour, which is largely habitual, creates a hostile climate for young gay/bi people who drop out or hide their sexuality. This means gay/bi players are invisible in youth tennis and leads to the downstream problem of no professionals. The banter/jokes continue because people think it is harmless.”

The hope is that players will also agree to be interviewed by the researchers for them to get a better understanding. All of the results will then be used by Pride Sports and Monash University to recommend evidence-based solutions. It is unclear as to how long the study will take or when the findings will be ready. 

Former top 100 player Brian Vahaly is one of the few players to have been both openly gay and played at the highest level of the men’s game. However, he didn’t fully come to terms with his sexuality until after retiring from the sport at age 27. Speaking to UbiTennis earlier this year, Vahaly shed light on the potential barriers for gay players.

There were a lot of homophobic jokes made on Tour. It’s a very masculine and competitive environment,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of gay representation, except for the women’s Tour. With me not having the personality of an outspoken advocate (for LGBTQ+ issues), certainly not in my twenties, I needed some time to understand myself. To me, in tennis I didn’t feel like there was anybody to talk to or anybody that was going through anything similar.”

The ATP has spoken with Vahaly about their initiative and he has become ‘quite involved.’ Through their discussions, he got acquainted with Denison for the first time. As a professional, Vahaly peaked at a ranking high of 64th in the world and won five Challenger titles. After retiring from the Tour, he has served on the USTA’s board of directors since 2013. 

“I am happy to hear that the ATP is finally taking action to address this issue.  I’m impressed they are taking a thoughtful, data-driven approach to make a meaningful difference here,” he told UbiTennis. 

The ATP aims to make the men’s Tour more welcoming to potential LGTBQ+ athletes playing either now or in the future. For those who question if such an initiative is important in 2021, you only have to look at the younger demographic.

Sportsnet quoted CDC data from 2019 which showed that 26% of American LGBTQ+ teenagers aged 16 or 17 has contemplated suicide, five times more than those who identify as straight (5%). Among those teenagers who heard homophobic terms, 33% self-harmed and an additional 40% considered doing so.

More than 2000 players around the world currently have an ATP ranking.

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Featured

2020 Tokyo Olympics, Djokovic on the heat and the new scheduling: “I’m glad they listened to us”

Speaking to Ubitennis, the world number one describes the work that he, Medvedev and Zverev (among others) have done to obtain better playing conditions

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So far, the tennis tournament at the 2020 Olympics has made headlines less for the match-play than for the difficult conditions in which it has been taking place due to the heat and the humidity. In the women’s draw, for instance, four players have been forced to retire during their matches: the last one has been particularly shocking, as Paula Badosa was taken off-court on a wheelchair after collapsing late in the first set of her quarter-final match against Marketa Vondrousova. Luckily, these issues appear to have finally caught the attention of the International Tennis Federation: starting tomorrow, no match will be played before 3pm (7am in the UK).

 

Part of the credit for this (still belated) decision goes to the lobbying and the complaints of the players, as world N.1 Novak Djokovic explained while speaking to Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta in Tokyo: “I’m glad the decision was made to reschedule tomorrow’s opening matches at 3pm. Today we went to speak to the supervisor – when I say ‘we’ I mean myself, Medvedev, and Zverev, along with the team captains. I have spoken to Khachanov and Carreno Busta as well, so the majority of the players who will feature in the quarter finals was of the same opinion.

“Of course I would have wished for this decision to be made a few days ago, but it’s still a good thing,” he added. “Nobody wants to witness incidents like the one that occurred to Badosa.

“The conditions are really brutal. Some people might think that we are just complaining, but all resistance sports (and tennis should be included among them) are taking place later in the day because the combination between the heat and the humidity is really terrible.”

He then concluded: “I’ve been a professional tennis player for almost 20 years and I’ve never experienced such hard conditions for so many consecutive days. It may have have happened once or twice in Miami or New York, but just for one day, whereas in Tokyo the situation is like this every day. I think that this decision will benefit the fans as well, because playing later allows us to play our best – these conditions were just draining for us.”

Article by Lorenzo Colle; translated by Tommaso Villa

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