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 practise 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.