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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 March 2019

Petra Kvitova aims to continue 'positive' start to 2019 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

World No 2 already has a WTA title to her name in Sydney and a runners-up spot at Australia Open to her name this year as she prepares to try and win Dubai title for second time

Petra Kvitova has had a strong start to 2019. Getty
Petra Kvitova has had a strong start to 2019. Getty

It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Petra Kvitova following defeat in the Australian Open final. Which, she says, has kind of been a good thing.

“Everything was so quick,” said the world No 2 on Sunday, a couple of days before she opens her tilt at a second Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title.

“I just went home. I got my visa to Russia, then flew next day to [play] St. Petersburg. That's it. I just flew to Monte Carlo a couple days, was home for a week. That's the preparation for Dubai.

“I didn't really have time to think too much; I was really in a circle, having to do a lot of things. Of course, the pain from the whole thing is gone. I'm taking it in a positive way.”

Understandably, the loss to Naomi Osaka in Australia hurt. There were positives, though, given Kvitova responded from a set down to push her opponent all the way in a certifiably memorable final. In the end, she was denied a third grand slam crown, losing 7-6, 5-7, 6-4.

All being said, it continued a commendably stellar start to 2019, in which the Czech won in Sydney and went agonisingly close in Melbourne.

However, a first major final on a surface other than grass – she has twice won Wimbledon – and a first since her career was almost ended following a knife attack in her home, has strengthened Kvitova's resolve.

“I was always going to other grand slams with a different kind of confidence,” Kvitova said. “But I'm glad that finally I made a different final, different than Wimbledon.

"I made some semi-finals before, which is important as well. The final is better, of course.

“Hopefully it's gives me another view on my tennis, on my game. It’ll now be little bit different in the other grand slams.”

First, though, Kvitova will attempt to win Dubai for a second time. The first, in 2013, feels like so long ago now, way before the Wimbledon breakthrough, some time before the December 2016 attack, in which she was stabbed with a knife and left with nerve damage in all five fingers of her playing hand.

“I don't know how many years it is,” Kvitova said, smiling. “I do remember that I was here alone, without my coach, without anyone actually. I just played by myself, by my thoughts. That's probably the strongest memory I have from the tournament.”

Now she wants to make up for lost time. Last year, Kvitova withdrew from the tournament just as it got under way, citing injury after she had won in Qatar.

“I'm glad I can be here again," said the 28-year-old, who begins her bid on Tuesday against either Petra Martic or Katerina Siniakova. "I do have the best memories that I can from this city and from this venue. I really enjoy this time here.

"But I don't really have any extra motivation. Motivation is as it is every other week. I'm glad to be here and play again. It's important.”

So, too, was winning an impressive five titles last year, spread across hardcourt (St Petersburg and Doha), clay (Prague and Madrid) and grass (Birmingham).

“It is important for me, for sure," Kvitova said. "It was on all the surfaces we have, which of course helped my mentality, as well, after coming back [from the attack], to know that I can play on all surfaces, what I’m able to do, playing the best tennis I can. Last year was a big one.”

Updated: February 17, 2019 06:57 PM

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