Petra Kvitova's resurgence is already the comeback of the decade, and it just could get even more extraordinary.
Just two and a half years after she was attacked in her home, when there were doubts whether she would ever play again, she is now just a few ranking points away from becoming the WTA World No.1 for the first time. To reach No.1 in the rankings, after everything she has been through, would be amazing. Actually, it would be astonishing.
In January, Petra had the opportunity in the Australian Open final against Naomi Osaka to achieve the No.1 ranking, but she didn’t get there. Now Petra is once again close to dislodging Osaka. As I said, astonishing.
I would love to see Petra punctuate her comeback by winning a major this year, adding to the Wimbledon titles she took in 2011 and 2014. She is a threat on any surface, and could even win Roland Garros for the first time this year, though much will depend on the speed of the playing conditions in Paris, which can vary quite a bit. When Petra is on, she can beat anybody.
Going into the Mutua Madrid Open, Kvitova is the player to beat. She loves the fast clay of Madrid, where the ball flies through the air a little quicker because of the altitude. It's a tournament that rewards big hitters, such as Petra, and she has won the title three times, including last season.
Amazingly, we're now into May and Petra is the only player on the WTA Tour to have won two titles this season. Until Petra won Stuttgart last month, to add to her success in Sydney in January, the preceding 18 tournaments on the WTA Tour had been won by 18 different women.
I think this year is a one-off, and we're never going to see this again, but one huge reason for this spread of winners has been the depth of talent on the WTA Tour. There are so many good players out there, and when any one of them gets hot, they have the game to go on to win a tournament.
No one is dominating women's tennis right now. Serena Williams hasn't been playing much at all, while Osaka hasn't yet lived up to her status as the World No.1 since she changed coaches. The top players are going through a period of turmoil, and fluctuations in form. Until Osaka won this year's Australian Open, there had been eight different Grand Slam champions in a row.
I'm baffled by the lack of consistency from the top players, which accounts for the other reason that Petra is the only woman to have won two titles on the WTA Tour this season. I’ve tried to understand the fluctuations in the performances and results of the top players, but they remain a mystery to me.
When Chris Evert and I were playing, and also when Tracy Austin or Steffi Graf or Monica Seles were on the WTA Tour, it was a big shock if we lost to a player ranked 50. People would say: "Oh my god, what happened?" But when that happens now, and someone in the top five loses to the No.50, it’s just not that big a deal. It’s a common occurrence.
Those kind of results should be the exception but they are not. Not at all. I would love to see more consistency from the top players. Of course, you're going to lose once in a while but I would like to see them hanging around in tournaments for longer on a much more regular basis.