It's weird playing without fans, says Kvitova




 

SHOWS:

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 28, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. PETRA KVITOVA WITH TROPHY AFTER WINNING ALL-CZECH EXHIBITION TOURNAMENT FINAL

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 29, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

2. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TWO-TIME WIMBLEDON CHAMPION, PETRA KVITOVA, ON WINNING ALL-CZECH EXHIBITION TOURNAMENT, SAYING:

"It's been tough one for sure and I'm glad how, you know even if we didn't practice that much and so, but we are still able to play and I played good tennis. So, I'm happy with the win for sure, but yeah, it's just a different kind of tournament."

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 28, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

3. KVITOVA HITTING A WINNER

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 29, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

4. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TWO-TIME WIMBLEDON CHAMPION, PETRA KVITOVA, ON PLAYING WITHOUT FANS, SAYING:

"Playing without fans was very weird as well. So, you know the support from fans it wasn't there, so, for example we hit some unbelievable winners and nobody's clapping, so, it's been really tough, but on the other hand it's nice to, you know, have a kind of the game-feeling again and play."

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 28, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

5. KVITOVA WINNING THE TOURNAMENT WITH AN ACE BEFORE TOUCHING RACKETS INSTEAD OF SHAKING HANDS OR EMBRACING WITH KAROLINA MUCHOVA AT THE NET

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 29, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

6. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TWO-TIME WIMBLEDON CHAMPION, PETRA KVITOVA, ON NOT SHAKING HANDS AT THE END OF THE MATCH, SAYING:

"For example for me it was really different that I couldn't have the towel between the points because it took a while to go for the towels and so, so, I just left it on the bench. Because for me it was pretty annoying and of course the ball boys couldn't hold it for me. So, it's been just different and to be honest I didn't like that we couldn't shake hands after the match. It felt so, I don't know, ungentlemanly thing to do. It was just a little bit weird for me to not to do it."

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 28, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

7. KVITOVA WINNING A GAME

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 29, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

8. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TWO-TIME WIMBLEDON CHAMPION, PETRA KVITOVA, ON GRAND SLAMS WITHOUT FANS, SAYING:

"I think that fans are very important for players and that's why we are playing tennis because we love to see the fans and people in the crowd and so, definitely if we are playing grand slams without the fans, it will be very sad. But still better to have a grand slam than no grand slams."

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 28, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

9. KVITOVA DURING A RALLY

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 29, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

10. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TWO-TIME WIMBLEDON CHAMPION, PETRA KVITOVA, ON THE U.S. OPEN GOING AHEAD, SAYING:

"It's tough with the travelling and you know going to a foreign country if we have to be in quarantine and so it will be very difficult. So, it will be great if we are back in April for sure, August sorry. In August. So, it would be great to be playing in the USA again."

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 28, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

11. KVITOVA WINNING A GAME

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 29, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

12. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TWO-TIME WIMBLEDON CHAMPION, PETRA KVITOVA, COMPARING NOT BEING ABLE TO PLAY FOLLOWING HER INJURY IN A STABBING ATTACK TO NOT BEING ABLE TO PLAY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, SAYING:

"This time it's a little bit different because nobody is playing, so it's not like pressure on you that you really have to, you know, be back physically and strong again. And that time I didn't even know if I was going to play tennis, so, now I know that I'm going to play tennis, so, it's a totally different story and we are all waiting what the future brings for us. We know that one day we're going to be back, so, that's kind of a little bit nicer future I would say."

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 28, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

13. KVITOVA AND MUCHOVA POSING FOR PHOTOS AFTER FINAL

STORY: Petra Kvitova has 27 career titles but winning an all-Czech exhibition tournament last week was a different experience for her and it felt "weird" to play in the absence of fans, the two-time Wimbledon champion told Reuters.

The Prague tournament was one of the few global exhibition events held after professional tennis was suspended in early March as countries went into lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.

While it was still a special occasion for the former world number two to lift the trophy at her home tennis club where she had won a WTA event two years back, the feeling was not the same.

"I'm happy with the win for sure but it was a different kind of tournament," said the 30-year-old, who wore the dress she had chosen for the postponed French Open. "Playing without fans was very weird as well.

"We hit some unbelievable winners and nobody was clapping, so it's been really tough. But on the other hand it's nice to have the game-feeling again."

With motivation lacking to practice and train, Kvitova found it tough to mentally prepare for the event. The first match was most difficult as her focus was drawn to the empty stands. It was after reaching the semi-finals that she was able to concentrate more on her game.

But left with no other choice, Kvitova said players would learn to adapt.

"For me it was really different that I couldn't have the towel between the points. It took a while to go for the towels, so I just left it on the bench," she said in an interview.

"For me it was pretty annoying and, of course, the ball boys couldn't hold it for me. And I didn't know we couldn't shake hands after the match. It felt such an ungentlemanlike thing."

Currently the professional circuit has been suspended at least until the end of July. Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II while the French Open has been postponed to September. The fate of the U.S. Open in New York will be decided this month.

While playing in presence of fans remains Kvitova's preference, she said players also need the sport to resume.

"It's tough to think about Grand Slams without fans," she said. "It's really tough because fans are very important for players ... if we are playing Grand Slams without fans, it will be very sad.

"But still better to have a Grand Slam than no Grand Slams."

Kvitova, currently ranked 12th, said she will not enjoy being in quarantine ahead of a tournament.

"It will be very difficult to be in quarantine in a foreign country and the hotel room for two weeks. It wouldn't be very nice for sure," she said, adding that it would be "great" if tournaments restart in August. "So, it will be a tough decision."

Kvitova required surgery on a stab wound to her racket hand she suffered during an attack by a knife-wielding home intruder in 2016. Besides the mental trauma, the incident also taught her to cope with waiting on the sidelines.

"I missed tennis for five months when I had to really work (hard) to be back playing. I really missed it when I saw the other girls playing a tournament and fighting," she said.

"We are all waiting to see what the future brings for us and we know that one day we're going to be back."

(Production: Sudipto Ganguly / Stefan Haskins)

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