Now THAT’S the Petra Kvitova I’ve always said is potentially the best player in the world. She steamrolled through Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-2 to win the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open. Sveta wasn’t 100 percent, but believe me it wouldn’t have been any different if she were. Petra showed up with a focus, power and variety in her game that was even better than what it was in her dismissal of Serena Williams in the semifinals. It was such a complete dismantling in the final that at one point Kuznetsova, after seeing shot after shot whiz by her, just smiled and shook her head as if to say “what can I possibly do?” On this day, nothing. When Kvitova plays like this, it makes hardcore tennis aficionados muse about the what she could possibly do if she brought this level of play on a consistent basis. I loved what I saw from Petra the last two days, but I’ve watched her a long time. I know full well that as brilliantly as she performed in the semis and final, she could just as easily lose in the first round of her next tournament. I hope not. As historically great as Serena Williams is, and as much as she is good for the game of tennis, it can’t just be her winning every tournament she enters. Probably for us American fans, most might not mind if Serena wins all the time. But for a hardcore tennis fan like myself, I prefer the rivalries…Evert vs Navritilova…McEnroe vs Connors or Borg or Lendl…Sampras vs Agassi…Federer vs Nadal…until it was sadly interrupted, Seles vs Graf. The problem is, right now there seems to be nobody who can rise up to really challenge Serena. The reason is simple. They don’t have the game to match Williams over time…except for two players. Sorry Masha, but those two players are Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova. Vika almost ousted Serena in Madrid, holding three match points. Petra did oust her. Of course, there are players like Alize Cornet and Simona Halep who have beaten Serena in recent memory. Alize did it multiple times. However, for Serena to lose to Halep and Cornet, she has to be off and help them. Petra is one of only two players that can walk out on court and dictate her own terms against Serena. Some pointed out Serena had a lot of unforced errors against Petra. But if you watched the match, it wasn’t because Serena came out sloppy. It was because Petra came out sharp and made Serena go for shots she normally wouldn’t need to beat other players, or even Petra in previous matches. Kvitova recently turned 25. It seems the tennis world has been waiting for her to fulfill the promise she showed in 2011 when she won her first Wimbledon and the WTA Tour Final. I don’t know if this is the start of her prime years, but I certainly hope so.
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4 PETRA KVITOVA (won 6-1 6-2 vs Svetlana Kuznetsova)