Quiet Kvitova admits favourite tag

Sun, 30 Oct 20:27:00 2011

Petra Kvitova let her racket do the talking when the fast-rising Czech backed up her shock Wimbledon crown by winning the WTA Championships at the first time of asking.

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The 21-year-old left-hander silenced wailing Belarussian Victoria Azarenka 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the Sinan Erdem Dome to scoop the $1.75 million jackpot and ensure she ended a superb year at No. 2 in the rankings after starting it at 34th.

Few would be surprised if the quietly-spoken country girl does not topple Caroline Wozniacki from the top of the rankings before the Australian Open begins in January.

Not that she was about to start making any big statements, despite claiming her sixth title of the year with another of the free-swinging displays that are winning her an army of new admirers fed up with the baseline grinders.

"After this tournament, okay, I can say it," a rather sheepish Kvitova told reporters when asked is she could be regarded as the player of the year.

Few would disagree after she beat five of the world's top eight players in Istanbul.

While the game may have changed drastically since the days when another Czech-born left-hander, Martina Navratilova, used to dominate the major silverware, there are many similarities between the way they play the game.

Like 18-times Grand Slam champion Navratilova used to, Kvitova prefers to dictate matches, attacking incessantly and going for winners. She is also comfortable and the net and when the chips are down, has proved she has the mental toughness to triumph.

The down-side is that she can occasionally take a few too many risks, as she did when blowing a 5-0 lead in the opening set against a player expected to challenge her for grand slam titles in the coming years.

With the Australian Open on the horizon, Kvitova could find herself tipped as favourite for the first Grand Slam of 2012, by which time she could also have the top ranking.

"I'm not thinking like that. I've had a great tournament and it's huge," she said when asked about closing a slender 115-point deficit to Wozniacki.

"But I'm number two and the next season will be different and I will be actually favourite maybe all the time," she added. "It will be really, really strange for me. It will be something new again."

While Kvitova remained modest about her achievements this year, those who have found her game too hot to handle have been a little more forthcoming.

U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, who Kvitova beat in the semi-finals, spoke in glowing terms about the Czech.

"She's had a very good year, and I think she's one of those exciting players to watch because she can pretty much do anything and she's got a very calm temperament out on the court," Stosur said after losing to Kvitova.

"I'm sure as she gets older she will only make that better and better. I think she's capable of doing very good things."


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