ZHUHAI, China - Petra Kvitova concluded a stellar Asian Swing with yet another title, taking home the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai crown after a 6-4, 6-2. The former World No.2 and Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open winner moved up to No.11 on the WTA rankings, and is eager to make up for lost ground at the start of next season.
WTA Insider caught up with Kvitova after her emphatic win over Svitolina to talk about the Wuhan-Zhuhai double, what it means to find herself on the tennis court, and why she'll key in on improving her serve and return during the off-season.
WTA Insider: On a scale from 1-10, how tired are you feeling right now?
Kvitova: I don't think I'm that tired. I just feel my entire body is sore, so I'll need to take a few days off to get ready for the Fed Cup tie. I'm really looking forward, but it's a little bit difficult. I'm a little bit tired, but winning always helps me recover faster.
WTA Insider: You managed to win Wuhan and Zhuhai this year, much like Venus Williams in 2015. What is it about these courts that go hand-in-hand for players?
Kvitova: I'm not really sure, but it's kind of funny that both of us won the same tournaments at the end of the season. I'm not sure, but maybe the courts are a little bit faster for our games. We both play aggressive, and have good serves. I think that pays off for us.
WTA Insider: You talked a lot about finding yourself in our last interview; I'm curious what that means to you. Is it about finding yourself personally, or professionally? You mentioned in press that you felt you'd rediscovered your game.
Kvitova: I think it's both, personal and tennis things. I've always loved to play tennis, but it can get tough when I'm not feeling confident, and not playing as well as I should. These couple of matches that I've won in the last couple of weeks have really helped my confidence. I did find myself, and that means I've found my game again. I'm not afraid to go for my shots, even if I miss them sometimes. I'm still trying to go for it, serve better, and put pressure on my opponent. That's something I don't think I was really doing at the start of the season. Of course, there were other small things also happening in my life, as well. But sometimes it's just important to go through all of these things to find yourself.
WTA Insider: You've also mentioned that potentially not having a coach helped you find yourself. What you're trying to find yourself - be it your game, or personally - did it help to not have too many extra voices around, and just to focus on you and what you're thinking and feeling?
Kvitova: Personally, I'm always trying to look at things more positively than negatively. I do have David, who is my fitness coach. He's traveling a lot with me right now, and he's helping a lot. He's not a tennis coach, so I'm doing tactics and practicing by myself. It's a little bit funny and it's all a learning process for me. It's nice to have this experience, and I'm just glad that I've had it. It'll be good for the future for me to have had these sorts of things happen. Everything new can be good for you if you take it positively. Not having a tennis coach is a little bit tricky; I'm glad I played more matches so I didn't really have to practice that much. That was helpful!
WTA Insider: What does a Petra Kvitova practice session look like? If and when you do add a coach to your team, will you then expect to collaborate with him? Now that you've had this independence, how tough will it be to give it up?
Kvitova: I think everything is about compromise and communication. I hope that when I find a good coach, we'll be able to sit and talk about how everything looks with my game and schedule. I'm not sure that I'll tell him about this experience, for sure. I'm not really a person that needs to practice five hours a day. Of course, preparation is a different story, but at tournaments, I really need to focus on the game and have good energy for the matches. That's one thing I've learned, and I hope it'll work.
WTA Insider: Briefly going back to the final today, and having five straight wins over Svitolina coming into the match. What is it about her ball that makes you comfortable on the court, especially with all the improvements she's made?
Kvitova: Those wins helped me with my confidence. In the last match, I was also a break down in the beginning of the match, and I was still able to turn it around. That helped me today when I was on the court, having that in mind. I can't say she plays a comfortable game, but I just know I need to play aggressively. She likes to play aggressively too, so I just need to be the first one who is putting pressure on her and play what I can. Sometimes, it ends up being a longer rally than I'd like, but that's the game. She's doing what she has to do to beat me. She's thinking as well, so fair enough. I think my serve helped me a lot and I need to return well, which I was doing pretty good today. In the rallies, she's really going for it, so it's just about the few points, and what turned the match on my side.
WTA Insider: You've talked about the serve a lot this week. When people think of you and your game, they think of the forehand, the power and precision behind that shot. How important do you feel focusing on the serve will be heading into 2017?
Kvitova: I think that's the key point, for sure. The serve and return are the beginning of the rallies, and those are very important for putting pressure on your opponent right away. I need to improve my second serve next season. Of course, my forehand is a big one, but I need to work on that, as well. I still miss too many shots over there, but I think overall, it's pretty good. The power is still the key for me to play well. I just need to keep it there.
WTA Insider: Finally, you're heading home tonight. Will you be flying home or straight to France ahead of the Fed Cup final?
Kvitova: I'll be flying to Prague, and then taking a car to go to Strasbourg, so that'll be fun. I'm looking forward to seeing the team. We have a great team, so I can't wait to be with them over there. It'll be the last week of the season, so it's great to have it then, as well.
WTA Insider: One last ride with the Czech Fed Cup team?
All photos courtesy of WTA Elite Trophy.