Petra Kvitova seemed to be well on her way to reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, leading by a set and a double break against Venus Williams, when suddenly the momentum shifted. The Australian Open finalist had established a comfortable 6-4, 3-0 lead for herself but Williams clawed her way back into the match, winning seven of the last nine games of the second set to draw level at one set apiece.
Rattled but not out, Kvitova once again mustered the lead in the third, but it wasn’t to be, as Williams reeled off three straight games to steal the 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory. It’s certainly not the way Kvitova anticipated spending her birthday week in Indian Wells.
Just one day after celebrating her 29th birthday, Kvitova is now the highest seed to lose so far and has an empty schedule, as she shifts her focus to the Miami Open next week. Summing up how she felt after the match, Kvitova told reporters: “I want to swear, but I will not."
"It's okay. I'm very polite. I should be nice”. She also added smiling: “Maybe lie in my bed and sleep and try to forget”. Kvitova will now spend the rest of the week in Indian Wells practising.
Understandably she admitted she was frustrated with herself. “It was such a weird match, to be honest. We started, I think, pretty nervous, both (of us). I took the first set. Suddenly I was leading in the second, but somehow I just gave her a chance again to be back in the match, and she took it.
"Suddenly, she just started to play better, I started to play worse. I was so frustrated with myself from the half of the second set to the end, which shouldn't happen to me. Despite Kvitova firing down 10 aces, it was nullified, as she also hit ten double faults, gifting Williams the free points.
"I just started to miss so much, and I didn't put the first serve in. And if that happens in any other match which I already played, I just would be that strong mentally that I gonna change it, but I just couldn't do that today.
"Suddenly I made two double faults, which I can't do that in such an intense match. That's really what put me down again. It's pretty tough. It's a game which you are playing with yourself; not with the opponent at all.
"That's what I lost today. I lost with myself. It's probably more frustrating that I lost to opponent, but I don't know." Kvtiova and Williams have now met seven times and each of their matches has gone the distance.
“It’s always tough to play Venus, for sure. We always play three-setters matches, and suddenly we have been there again and playing until the end. And in the end of the match, she definitely played better than me.
"I let her play her better game, so it's my fault, anyway. Nothing was in my mind when she started to play better. It was just there and I tried to play better, as well, and kind of compete with her and keep my serve alive, and still kind of try to have a chance on her serve, which I had and I took it, but then I lost it again."