Petra Kvitova offers timely reminder of talent after barren spell

 

Living up to her reputation as a Wimbledon champion has not always been easy for Petra Kvitova, but there have been signs in the last fortnight that the 22-year-old Czech is recapturing the form that took her to within two victories of becoming the world No 1 at the start of last year.

A 6-3, 6-4 victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the Dubai Duty Free Championships here last night put her through to her first final for more than six months, in which she will face Italy’s Sara Errani.

Kvitova, who claimed six titles – including Wimbledon – in her breakthrough year in 2011, has won only two tournaments since and slipped to No 8 in the world. However, the Czech played well last week in Doha, where she went close to denying Serena Williams the victory that took her back to world No 1, and has fought through a tough draw here without losing a set. The fast conditions suit her game, though until this year she had not won a match in this tournament.

When Kvitova is on song there are few better ball-strikers. Her big leftie serve is a potent weapon and opponents have trouble reading where she is placing her big groundstrokes, which she hits with superb timing on both flanks. Wozniacki is one of the best retrievers, but was regularly beaten by the sheer weight of Kvitova’s shots and lost the first set on a single break. The 22-year-old Dane hit the ball more aggressively at the start of the second set and was rewarded with a break of serve to lead 3-2, but Kvitova hit back immediately and broke again to take the match.

Errani is through to her second final of the year, having finished runner-up in Paris earlier this month. She reached her first final here at the  expense of her best friend and doubles partner, Roberta Vinci, winning their semi-final 6-3, 6-3.

Meanwhile, Ross Hutchins admits his target of returning to tennis later this season is likely to prove unrealistic. The British doubles specialist was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer, in December, and began six months of chemotherapy last month.

He had hoped to be able to compete again this year but, although his treatment is going well, he now accepts the start of the 2014 season is more realistic.

Hutchins, who celebrates his 28th birthday today, told BBC Radio Five Live: “I’ve realised the recovery after the six months will probably take three months and I will not be in great physical shape.”

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