No coach, no problem: Petra Kvitova ‘learning about myself’ at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
It may have been Valentine’s Day on Sunday, but Petra Kvitova is more than happy on her own at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Kvitova, 25, split from her coach of seven years, David Kotyza, last month following her second round exit from the Australian Open.
The announcement came as a huge surprise, with Kotyza helping Kvitova to 17 WTA titles, including two Wimbledon crowns, during their time together.
However, for a player of immense talent, 2016 has begun poorly for the Czech.
The early elimination at Melbourne was preceded by a first round exit at the Shenzhen Open, albeit an injury-related retirement.
And her only two matches since Australia have been successive Fed Cup defeats.
It was time for a change.
While most coaches would jump at the chance to join the Kvitova camp, the world No 9 is doing what most people do at the end of any long-term relationship – taking some time to herself.
“I felt I needed some new input into my game,” she said. “It’s not like we’re not talking anymore. David and I are still good friends but he’s not my coach anymore.
“Now I don’t have a coach, I’m just by myself. I’m enjoying this change and I hope it will help my game.
“I feel more free. In practice, in matches, every decision now is about me. I am learning a lot about myself as a player. It is a lot of responsibility, of course. It is my job and my game, so everything is on me.
“I just feel this step is important for me to find out what I want, what I need to do and how I can play well again.”
Shedding some light on why the split occurred, Kvitova said her game was stagnating and decided that taking on more responsibility herself would be the best way to move forward.
“I feel I am not improving and that is why I made this change,” she said.
“I hope it is going to help me.
“I can play better than I am right now. Physically I can be better.
“I think there are many parts of my game that I can improve.”
With fiance, Czech Republic ice hockey player Radek Meidel, and fitness coach David Vydra, both missing from Dubai, Kvitova truly is riding solo this week.
Not that it concerns her.
In fact, perhaps Kvitova should take some encouragement from her situation, considering the last time she remembers being alone at a tournament was here three years ago when she won her first title.
“I was on my own in Dubai in 2013,” she said.
“I’m not sure if it was the last time, but that is the last time I can remember.
“I have a good friend, Lucie [Hradecka], also playing in Dubai, so it makes it a bit easier. Sometimes it is nice to be alone and have some space to think.
“That is one of the reasons I came here. Not only because I won in 2013, but to clear my mind, to really think about what I am going to do. That is why I came alone, to enjoy the tennis and play without feeling too much pressure.”
Kvitova is not in action until the second round on Wednesday, the luxury of being a top four seed affording her a first round bye, and a tricky encounter with world No 31 Ekaterina Makarova likely awaits.
“I can’t say I am fully confident right now but it’s nice that I can play some more matches,” she said.
“I will do my best to go as far in the tournament as I can.”
Given the upheaval in her professional life, Kvitova’s attempts to dampen expectations are unsurprising, but if she finds success in Dubai this week, perhaps a belatedly love affair with the 2016 season can begin.
After all, it is Valentine’s Day.
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Updated: February 14, 2016 04:00 AM