x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Curtain raises on Kvitova

Petra Kvitova has a big serve, is nimble for her size and seems to have mastered all surfaces. She could be primed to make a run at Carolina Wozniacki's top ranking in 2012.

Petra Kvitova finished the season with a flurry, winning at Linz and Istanbul to rise in the rankings to No 2.
Petra Kvitova finished the season with a flurry, winning at Linz and Istanbul to rise in the rankings to No 2.

Petra Kvitova did not sneak up on women's tennis here at the end of the 2011 season. No one wins at Wimbledon without engendering a significant measure of lasting attention.

However, the 21-year-old Czech won no more than one match in four of her next five tournaments, including a first-round exit at the US Open, reducing her profile significantly.

That was until Sunday, when she won the WTA Championships to hammer home the reality that she is primed to become "The Next Big Thing" in the women's game.

Kvitova finished the year with a rush, winning at Linz in Austria and then at Istanbul to end with six championships in 2011.

That is the same number of tournaments won by Caroline Wozniacki, the current world No 1, who suddenly is only 115 points ahead of Kvitova in the rankings.

Kvitova has much to recommend a climb to the top of the heap.

She is tall and powerful, has a big serve, but is surprisingly nimble for a woman of her size.

She reminds some of a left-handed Lindsay Davenport, which is not at all a bad thing to be, considering that the American won three grand slams, US$22 million (Dh80.8m)and finished a year ranked No 1 four times.

In the past two weeks, Kvitova cut a swath through the game's elite players:

She has defeated Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur, Vera Zvonareva, Agnieszka Radwanska, Daniela Hantuchova, Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka, the latter in the WTA Championships final.

During that run, the Wimbledon champion defeated two of the three other winners of slam events in 2011, missing only Kim Clijsters, the Australian Open winner, who is out with an injury.

Kvitova seemed to grasp the magnitude of her breakthrough, after her latest victory.

"It's a really big step for me," she said.

Azarenka conceded she had lost to an elite player.

"It's hard to lose, but I'm glad I lost to such a champion," she said. "She has a really big serve, and in the important moments it's really saving her."

Kvitova showed the sort of multi-surface mastery required to be the world's best by winning on clay in Paris, on grass at Wimbledon and on hard courts, both indoors and outdoors.

Kvitova would be No 1 this minute, ending Wozniacki's slam-less reign, had she not demonstrated an unfortunate habit of losing in the early rounds of too many tournaments.

If she can begin to defeat the players she should always beat, she could settle in for a nice, long run at No 1.

She already has shown she can win on the biggest stages.