MIAMI -- Practice does not make perfect for Petra Kvitova. That just might just be the key to her longevity.
On Saturday, Kvitova captured her 30th career title by winning her first at the Miami Open. Facing down the reigning Wimbledon champion, Kvitova outserved, outpaced and out-clutched Elena Rybakina to win a 30-point opening tiebreak before a 7-6(14), 6-2 win. At 33, Kvitova is the second-oldest Miami Open champion behind only Serena Williams, who also won the title at 33 years old in 2015.
The victory will move Kvitova back in the Top 10 for the first time since 2021 and zoom her up the Race to the WTA Finals Leaderboard to No.5.
It was a remarkable fortnight for Kvitova, one that she says "came out of nothing" considering how little practice she was able to put in before Indian Wells. The topic of practice has always been a tricky and humorous one for the Czech. If it was up to her, she would only play matches.
"I think it's tough for coaches that they can't really put the work with me on the court," Kvitova told reporters earlier in the week in Miami. "Then if I have a few days, he can do a lot of work, as well, but you never know which day it will come, if it will be like coffee time or working time.
"So I think that's a little difficult to find out when I have like a mood to go for it or need to a little bit relax."
Striking that balance has been the challenge of Kvitova's mercurial career.
"With the experience that I had in my career, knowing that even if I have the day off I can play very well, that's giving me a better feeling that I can give myself a day off and not hit at all, just do a bit of gym and that's it," Kvitova said. "So I think it's [saving] the passion and the fighting spirit that I can have then in the match."
Kvitova joined the WTA Insider Podcast after her title run to discuss why she has to balance her practice schedule to get the best from herself when it matters most.
Listen to the full interview below:
WTA Insider: In recent years you've tailed back how much you're practicing both before and during events. How do you minimize your practice but still find your level in matches?
Kvitova: If I'm practicing a lot, I just get tired of tennis overall. And then when I'm on the match court I'm probably not enjoying the tennis as much. So I need some time off actually, not to play every day or be on the court for so many hours. I need to enjoy the match itself afterward, where I can play very good.
WTA Insider: Does it make matches feel more special because you're not grinding for hours on the practice court?
Kvitova: I think it's very special then for me to be there and to play. If you have to go there and practice again for an hour, it's getting really tiring all the time.
Maybe I just will not ever practice at all and just play matches (laughs).
WTA Insider: Players consistently talk about how hard they're working. How do you find the balance between working enough and working too much?
Kvitova: Of course in my career I was putting a lot of work in. And then I was totally empty and I couldn't play tennis at all. So of course I tried it, I really tried many times with different coaches, but it just couldn't work that much for me. I really need that time mentally off as well.
Yeah, I hear all the time, working hard, working hard, working hard. I do! When I'm on the court and in the gym, I do. I don't like it, but I have to practice, of course. But in the match it's a different story.
WTA Insider: You won your first title in 2009 and now your 30th in 2023. What do you see when you look back on your journey and what you've been able to accomplish in your career?
Kvitova: I would say that it was a dream, my whole career. When I was a kid and playing tennis just for fun with my father, I couldn't really imagine having a career like I did, winning two Wimbledon titles, so many others. I should be proud of myself of course.
But when you're still playing, you don't really realize how much I did. Probably one day when I finish with tennis I will see it differently. But for now, I am still in the circle, going back to back, every week, every day, all the way, so it feels like it was just flying so fast those years.
WTA Insider: What does this win mean for you going forward for the clay season?
Kvitova: I have no idea what I'm going to do now. I need some time off, for sure. That's what I'm really looking forward to, going home. But the clay is coming and of course it will be different. I will have to spend some time on the court, unfortunately, to get used to the clay, the bouncing and moving.
But I'm not putting any expectations actually. I'm just happy where I am right now. It will be a long clay season for sure, so hopefully I can manage it.