TORONTO, Canada - Two-time Wimbledon champion and World No.4 Petra Kvitova has been diagnosed with mononucleosis. Kvitova revealed the news on Monday afternoon in Toronto, where she says her doctors have cleared her to play the Rogers Cup this week. Kvitova received the diagnosis a little over a week ago.
"[After Wimbledon] I spent a few days off in Monaco as a vacation and then I was trying to practice a little bit," Kvitova explained. "Unfortunately I found out I was diagnosed with mono. So it's going to be a little tougher for me to practice in a good way."
Earlier this season Kvitova pulled out of the Premier Mandatory tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami citing fatigue. She returned in April to win the Madrid Open, handing Serena Williams her only defeat of the season en route to the final.
After winning the Madrid Open in early May, Kvitova made the quarterfinals in Rome, fourth round of the French Open, and the third round of Wimbledon. Through that span she was forced to withdraw from Eastbourne due to a sore throat. That sore throat lingered after Wimbledon and triggered the diagnosis.
"I had a sore throat and I wanted to kill it so I had antibiotics after Wimbledon," Kvitova said. "Unfortunately I didn't kill it and that's why it showed my immune system was low. So I had more tests and it showed up."
While the illness helps put her last three months in context, Kvitova refused to use it as an excuse for her disappointing results after Madrid. "It's tough when I'm looking back," she said. "Many things are clearer now. But of course I'm not sure if I don't have mono that I'm going to play well. That's not something I can say. I still had chances to win anyway. Maybe I can just see why I felt tired."
Kvitova says neither she nor her doctor know whether the mono is related to her fatigue earlier in the season. "I was just tested and probably I got the mono during the springtime this year," she said. "I still have a little bit of it. I'm still able to play. My doctor gave me permission to play. But of course I have to be worried about the practice and everything. I will try to be ready for the matches."
Mono isn't new to the tennis tour. Christina McHale and Heather Watson were diagnosed with mono two years ago. On the men's tour it effectively ended the careers of Robin Soderling and Mario Ancic, while Roger Federer was diagnosed with it in 2008. When asked what her reaction was to the news, Kvitova said it was a little bit of everything.
"At first I was a little bit scared," Kvitova said. "I didn't know if I could play the US tournaments this summer or maybe if I could play at all for the rest of the season."
"On the other side I think it's positive news. I know now why I'm still tired and feeling so badly. That's the good news for me."
Though she's been cleared to play and has been told she is past the contagious stage, Kvitova says she's still feeling the ill effects of the mono. "Of course I still feel tired and a little bit sleepy," she said. "I don't know if it's the jetlag or this thing. I will try my best for sure. We are making the schedule smart with the practicing so I'm hoping it will be fine soon."
Looking ahead to the summer hardcourt season, Kvitova intends to play so long as her doctor gives her clearance. Asked whether she could play her tournaments with minimal pressure knowing what she knows now, Kvitova said no.
"Of course when I am on the court I'm going to be nervous," she said. "I want to win. If I can I will leave everything there. Of course I will feel some pressure. There's still many points to defend. Before I found out, I wanted to qualify for Singapore and that feeling hasn't stopped. That is really one of the things I want to achieve this year."
Kvitova says she decided to open up about her diagnosis on Monday at the Rogers Cup All-Access Hour because she didn't want to mislead anyone about her training or her prospects for the summer season. "I don't think it would be right to tell everybody that I was practicing so hard after Wimbledon and I'm so ready to play this tournament and win it. And then maybe I go out and I don't play so well and I wouldn't feel comfortable lying. Also many players on the tour have had this illness so maybe it's good for me to talk about it more."