For Petra Kvitova, the recently deposed Wimbledon champ, the U.S. Open offers an opportunity to turn a somewhat disappointing year into an excellent one. At the start of 2012, Kvitova was within a few swings of the racquet of the No. 1 ranking, having ended 2011 as the best player on the WTA Tour. But the chance slipped away, and things quickly degenerated from there. After taking a critical loss to Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open semis, the 2011 Wimbledon champ didn’t win two matches in a row until late April. She began to find her form again in Europe, however, and came on strong after absorbing a painful quarterfinal loss at the Olympic games to No. 15 Maria Kirilenko. She won Montreal a few weeks ago to improve her ranking to No. 5; consider that a shot fired cross the bow of her peers.
Why She’ll Win:
Kvitova, a 6-foot tall lefthander, has a very big, aggressive ground game built on her serve, but she can volley, too. On these relatively fast hard courts, that’s a combination only Serena Williams can match.
Why She Won’t:
Her game is marred by periods of inconsistency, even if she often has the firepower to hit right through them and regain her form. Expecting her to accomplish that at a major is asking too much.
Kvitova ought to be motivated, because she has a lot of ranking points to defend in the fall, and needs to get into gear at the US Open if she hopes to stay in the mix at or very near the top.