Kvitova's relaxed approach to US Open pays off
After a five-month injury layoff, Petra Kvitova is taking a relaxed approach to the US Open and it paid off on Sunday when the Czech upset pre-tournament favorite Garbine Muguruza to reach the quarterfinals.
Kvitova suffered a career-threatening injury to her left playing hand, when an intruder stabbed her at her home in December but she has been recovering faster than expected.
Seeded 13th at Flushing Meadows, Kvitova went through the early rounds without dropping a set but Sunday's challenge at Arthur Ashe Stadium was supposed to be trickier as she was facing Muguruza of Spain.
She fell 1-4 behind at the start but the two-time Wimbledon champion, who made her comeback at the French Open in May, then won 12 of the 17 remaining games to prevail 7-6 (3), 6-3.
It was her first win on Arthur Ashe.
"I should change my perspective about it. Maybe that's why I didn't ever have any expectation to play well here. That's why probably I am playing more relaxed and more free maybe," she told a news conference.
"I'm always putting a little bit of pressure on myself at Wimbledon because of the titles, I do have them. But I'm trying to find a rhythm at the US Open.
"I'm not going on-site the day off. I'm staying by Central Park which is pretty relaxed."
Next up for Kvitova is local favorite Venus Williams, the ninth seed who this season reached her first two grand slam finals since 2009 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
But Kvitova is relishing the challenge.
"I think that she's playing amazing on the majors this year. I mean, she is really playing very, very well on the big stages," said Kvitova. "She played the final of Wimbledon. She's a champion. It's what we all know.
"It will be a great match for me to step on Ashe again probably and play there. I mean, we always had tough battles.
"I will try my best. I mean, she has a big serve, big server of course. She has something special which the other players don't have. That's what I will try to play again probably, similar game as today."
Kvitova has earned the her rivals' respect, none more so than Williams, who is only 1-4 lifetime against the Czech, AFP reported.
"What she has gone through is unimaginable, unreasonable," Williams said. "The world we live in is just shocking. So for her, I think to be playing well is such a blessing.
"To be able to come out here and do what she needs to do, to clear her head, it's such a beautiful thing to see. What else can I say except I'm glad to see her back?"
Muguruza found Kvitova's form astonishing considering what she has been through.
"I think it's incredible that she's playing at this level," Muguruza said. "I think she's playing very well. So I don't feel she has changed.
"She's one of the biggest hitters and a talented player. She has a great timing and a lot of power."
Muguruza could become world No. 1 for the first time, unless current No. 1 Karolina Pliskova makes the final or fourth seed Elina Svitolina reaches the semifinals.
"I think every player dreams to be No. 1 at some point," Muguruza said. "I didn't come to the US Open to be No. 1... that wasn't really my goal.
"We'll see. I'll keep on eye now on the scores. But that's it."