Petra keeps it fresh with life in fast lane

 - Alex Sharp

Dual Grand Slam champion opens RG2021 campaign against Minnen on Sunday

Petra Kvitova, Roland Garros 2021, practice© Julien Crosnier/FFT

A competitor with effortless, full-throttle power, when Petra Kvitova is firing on all cylinders the two-time Grand Slam champion can dismantle any opponent.

The world No.12 has been gearing up for Roland-Garros in the fast lane, taking in the sights and sounds of last weekend's Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. Now she is hooked.

“It was really something unbelievable, unreal. When I was kid I was watching with my dad, but just the beginning and then was just circles, you know, boring. But when you see something live, it's something really interesting and the sound was unbelievable,” declared the 31-year-old.

“It was too loud and too fast. No crash, which is good for them, but for me (smiles). It was very interesting actually, to be honest, and since then I'm watching the Formula 1 series on Netflix, so I'm really in.”

The Czech enjoyed a riveting run to the semi-finals last October in Paris. Back on the grounds in the French capital Kvitova tapped her seat to touch wood that she would remain free of injury scares in her push for another major.

“It feels like yesterday that I [was] here, that we never left from here. It's just a couple of months, it's not a whole year as we normally have it. So for me its very live memories what I have from last year. Obviously it was a great time last year,” reflected the 11th seed, having claimed quarter-final results in Stuttgart and Madrid on the road to Roland-Garros in 2021.

“I'm really enjoying to be here playing on the clay. Yeah, the bubble is still here, but it's a little bit better. I'm really happy that I can be here. One year I had the scare because of my injury. I'm glad this time [I'm] looking OK so far.”

>ORDER OF PLAY: Day 1 - Sunday May 30

In a repeat of her opening task at the Australian Open in February, Kvitova is drawn to take on world No.125 Greet Minnen.

That straight-sets triumph enhanced Kvitova’s first-round record in majors to 39-9, while the Belgian qualifier fell to 1-3.

“The guys told me yesterday I'm playing her, I was, like, ‘Again?’ It was just a couple months ago. It will be clay, it will be different,” Kvitova said. “It's still flying here. That's good. I played her actually on clay in Stuttgart a few years ago [6-1, 6-4 in 2019].

“She has to run, that's important. Otherwise she can play as well, very well from the forehand. So that would be for sure my game plan.”The 28-time titlist is still trying to change it up, given the cyclical nature of a tennis player's life, making sure she maintains motivation, especially during the pandemic.

“I don't feel it that much. I know I got over 30, but I still feel OK,” the 31-year-old said as she reflected on her 15th season on tour. 

“I don't feel any tensions or anything like this. Of course it's tough to still do something new, that it's not that boring and all other things. I'm trying. It's even tougher being in a bubble in this case...

"I mean, in the practices I'm still playing forehand, backhand, but of course we are trying some other exercises and having fun. We are playing keep-ups a lot as well. That's what I like. Sometimes the good mood it's really [the] main thing to perform well afterwards.”