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Kvitova out of US Open but back on the big stage

By Reuters - Sep 06,2017 - Last updated at Sep 06,2017

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic competes against Venus Williams of the USA in the Women’s Singles quarter-final match at the 2017 US Open in New York on Tuesday (Anadolu Agency photo by Volkan Furuncu)

NEW YORK — Petra Kvitova took solace from the plentiful evidence that she is able to battle with the best again, despite bowing out of the US Open after a quarter-final loss to Venus Williams on Tuesday.

Only three months after returning from a career-threatening injury sustained when she was stabbed by an intruder at her home in December, the Czech had much to be pleased about in her Flushing Meadows campaign.

The 27-year-old beat pre-tournament favourite Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round and on Tuesday came close to upsetting local favourite Williams before succumbing to a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2) defeat. 

“I’m glad that I am still able to compete on the high level against the top players which I hope will give me some confidence for hard work again to continue to play well, to know that it’s still there somewhere,” she said.

Kvitova has made steady progress since her comeback at the French Open in May, but there remains a question mark over whether she can add another major crown to her 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon titles.

Her performances against Muguruza and Williams suggest that she can, but the Czech is remaining cautious as she tries to keep expectations low.

“I’m not sure about the Grand Slam titles,” she added. “Of course that’s why I’m playing tennis, and that’s why I wanted to be back and playing, and it is a big motivation. 

“But I’m still on the earth, and I know it’s still a lot of work. I know how tough it is to get a Grand Slam title. 

“It was pretty close but pretty far, as well.”

Against Williams, Kvitova worked the angles pretty well with her crafty left hand, but she lacked consistency and the American was never threatened in the final tiebreak.

It was a frustrating end to a campaign that Kvitova thought she would ultimately judge a success.

“I think it was pretty early [in my comeback] that I put a little bit pressure on myself, and I just wanted to play better and better, which I wasn’t ready for,” she said. 

“I’m just glad that I could show it here, that there is a way to play well again. So from my side, in a couple of days I hope that I will say, good job. But not just now.”

 

Williams grabbing opportunities

 

Now 37 and in the twilight of a sparkling career, the opportunities Venus Williams lives for are not supposed to come around as often as they once did.

“Sometimes you have opportunities and sometimes you take them and you don’t, but it’s not like you get opportunity after opportunity after opportunity in these sorts of matches,” said Williams. “You have to take the ones you have.”

Williams has taken those words to heart in a renaissance season that has seen her reach the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals and sit just one victory away, against American compatriot Sloane Stephens, from playing for the US Open title for the first time since 2002.

It has been nine years since Williams celebrated the last of her seven Grand Slam singles wins and 16 since she last lifted the US Open title and remains as hungry for trophies as ever.

“I’m still living my dream, and it’s amazing,” said Williams.

It did not always seem like it on Tuesday, particularly during a fluctuating second set when Williams was unable to put away her 13th seeded opponent, who had beaten her four times in five meetings.

“You know, definitely when I had opportunities in the second set and so many break points disappearing, you feel like, wow, I should be doing more,” said Williams. “You have to put it behind you. 

“It’s about winning the match you’re in. Doesn’t matter whether you’re playing well or not playing well. It’s about figuring out how to win.

“These big matches there have been times where I have won these and there have been times I didn’t win them.”

Williams has been winning much more than losing this year putting together a 34-10 match record.

But the records Williams is piling up now are the “oldest this” and “oldest that”. Longevity brings its own recognition but winning remains the ultimate goal.

Life has moved on for Williams. Sister Serena, a six-time US Open champion, is not in Flushing Meadows after giving birth to her first child and many of the players Williams is facing at the US Open grew up watching and idolising her.

A role model, Williams led four American women into the quarter-finals and hopes all four will reach the semifinals.

 

“All I have known all my life was great American players,” said Williams. “So it’s great to see this resurgence, and I hope it can continue.”

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