That decision to take seven weeks off at the end of February and whole of March is appearing to be a wise one from Petra Kvitova. Clay may not be her surface of choice but she arrives in Rome on the back of a fine triumph in Madrid, beating the in-form world number one Serena Williams along the way.
Kvitova’s only current Grand Slams are at Wimbledon (2011 and 2014) but she has shown a lot about her during the last week to suggest that more success could be around the corner.
Now the left-hander is hoping to go beyond the quarter-finals at the Foro Italico for the first time having recharged her batteries.
“I was surprised with how I’m playing,” she said. “I made this decision not to play these big tournaments. I was quite worried with how it was going to be afterwards.
“I played Fed Cup which was OK, I have played Stuttgart and it was bad. Then came the decision to go to Madrid and be Petra again as before.
“I was happy with the break actually. I was so tired that I needed it. I did not really miss it and that was the sign I needed the break. Afterwards I started to miss it and that was a good sign.
“But I don’t think I will do it every year. I really didn’t enjoy it, I was tired playing with empty feelings. Now I’m back playing fun again.
“I have to thank my team. After the time off I started to focus on tennis. I think from the beginning of the year I was fit but the mind and the head are important too. That’s what makes me as a player.
“My mental coach told me: ‘OK if you don’t take the break you will feel so tired and you
can’t take a break during the French Open.’ Of course I wouldn’t have won Madrid.”
That triumph, as unexpected as it was in Spain, could be the springboard not that Kvitova is even contemplating the future.
“I’m not thinking about the French Open, I’m thinking about my victory in Madrid which is very fresh. There’s another big tournament on the clay and a big Grand Slam is coming up. I’m glad I played a great six matches and beat the world number one for the first time.
“It’s always nice to win a big tournament. Maybe it just gives me more confidence that I can play on clay.”