ISTANBUL — After her straight set loss to Agnieszka Radwanska at the WTA Championships on Tuesday, Petra Kvitova said she was battling her nerves throughout the match. Her hands were shaking, she couldn’t breathe after rallies, and she felt lethargic throughout the match. Kvitova didn’t think much of some pre-match stomach troubles. As it turns out, the 22-year-old Czech learned after the match that she had once again come down with a viral illness, forcing her to withdraw from the tournament she dominated a year ago. She’ll be replaced by Sam Stosur, who qualified as the first alternate.
“Yesterday when I played I thought that it’s nerves, but normally nerves are gone after first set,” Kvitova explained. “It was actually during all the match, so I thought that it’s something wrong.”
“I was shaking all match and I wasn’t feeling very well. My stomach felt really funny. After one rally with Agnieszka (Radwanska) I couldn’t breathe, so that’s why maybe it looks so easy and I had a lot of errors then. After that I felt still the stomach not really well. I had diarrhea yesterday also in the morning.”
“I know that if I’m not really 100 percent ready for compete with these girls on this level, I know that I can’t play. That’s why I’m withdrawing.”
Kvitova will fly home to Prostejov tonight and get checked out at the hospital. She says she’s still hoping to play a scheduled exhibition against Maria Sharapova in Prague on Monday, October 29th, and despite the withdrawal she’s been named to the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup team for the final against Serbia on Nov. 3-4.
“I try my best to be ready for the Fed Cup. It’s final at home and I really want to play in front of our crowd, my family and friends, and try to win the Fed Cup title again. So I will try my best to be ready for the weekend.”
Whether she plays will depend on how quickly she can get diagnosed and recover. It’s another bout of ill-timed bad luck for Kvitova, who started the year at No. 2 and looked poised to be the next WTA No. 1, but has been derailed by various illnesses and injuries throughout 2012.
She pulled out of Doha in February due to an achilles injury, Dubai due to a virus, got stuck with the stomach bug that practically wiped out the field at Indian Wells, was forced out of Bad Gastein with a leg injury, and struggled with an abdominal injury during the clay and grass season. Despite it all, Kvitova still made two Slam semifinals — losing to Sharapova at both the Australian Open and Roland Garros — and bagged two titles. It speaks volumes about her promise and potential that we view her year as a disappointment. Kvitova said given her injuries, she’s proud of her results this year.
“I knew this season would be very tough for me after the breakthrough last season,” she said before the tournament. “I had some injuries and illness, so it was tough to still try [to] play from the beginning. So I’m really glad the way how I played this season. It means a lot to be here again.
“I mean, I don’t like to give up, so I’m feeling really disappointed. I hope that Sam will win some matches for me.”
Kvitova’s withdrawal opens up a big opportunity for Stosur, who was a semifinalist here last year. She could make the semifinals again if she wins both her round robin matches against Errani and Sharapova, but needs Radwanska to either go 3-0 in group play or not win another match. The slower courts should favor Stosur’s game and she’s in good form, having made the final of Moscow on Sunday.