Petra Kvitova: I was exhausted and empty but now ready to return

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova won her second Wimbledon title last summer and ended 2014 with Fed Cup victory as part of the Czech Republic team. In her latest exclusive column for BBC Sport, the world number four explains why she needed a break from tennis as she prepares to return to action.

Taking a time-out

The suggestion to miss Indian Wells and Miami came via a text from my coach and I must say I was shocked - I never imagined he would send me a message telling me to stop playing tennis.

I was on my way from Dubai to Doha in February when the idea arrived on my phone, and I spent four days and nights thinking about it - I didn't really sleep well. It was a very big decision, I have to say.

I had never taken time off when I wasn't injured but I really felt I was exhausted, not only physically but mentally. I made the decision that I would miss Indian Wells before I stepped on the court in Doha and I think it was the right thing to do, I just hope it's going to pay off.

Graphic
Kvitova's busy schedule warranted some time away from the game

I certainly can't imagine a better way to come back than playing for my country in the Fed Cup this weekend. I'm glad to be in front of a home crowd and I'm sure everything is going to be perfect. I'm looking forward to it.

Running on empty

Playing tennis for me has always meant doing something I love, and doing it with a lot of passion, but from the start of the year I just didn't have that. I was so empty.

I didn't always feel physically bad, I was able to play, but I wasn't there 100%. I felt I was fighting this strange feeling rather than the opponent; I couldn't really describe what was going on.

I discussed it with my coach, David [Kotyza], as long ago as January in Sydney, even though I actually went on to win the tournament.

When I beat Jarmila Gajdosova 6-4 in the third set, I didn't know how I beat her. I didn't enjoy it and wasn't happy that I won the match and had made the semi-finals. It was very weird and I was really confused.

I talked to my mental coach as well as David and it got a little bit better after we had put everything on the table, but only for a short period.

It was worrying, of course. You have thoughts in your mind about whether it's going to be like this for long, whether a rest will help, why am I not feeling perfect on the court?

Petra Kvitova
Kvitova began the road back with a trip to the gym after three weeks of rest

Back to work

After we made the decision to miss Indian Wells and Miami I went four weeks without having a tennis racquet in my hand. I just rested.

I didn't feel I needed to see the doctor because I didn't think it was really a physical problem. I'd had a blood test after I came back from Melbourne, which said everything was good.

I spent 10 days on the beach and slept pretty much all day, every day. It was the perfect place to have a rest. I then went to Monaco for a week or so before getting back to work - time off goes really fast!

In the fourth week I was back in the gym on my own getting ready for my fitness trainer to arrive, and then we added the tennis as well. Everything was good, I've practised for two weeks and have another to come this week.

Ready to return

I'm so happy to be back on court, practising and looking forward to playing matches again. That's a great feeling and tells me I made the right decision.

I think tennis players will understand what I've been through; maybe some other people won't, but the main thing is I am the one who has to understand it. Like every normal working person you get tired and need time out.

Petra Kvitova
With the physical preparation under way, coach David Kotyza oversaw the tennis side

My ranking hasn't slipped since I've been away but that's something I can't focus on anyway, because if I think about rankings I don't play very well. I just want to concentrate on performing at the Grand Slams, on the clay, and of course at Wimbledon.

It's a very busy time in the schedule coming up and it's closer to home, so there's not as much travelling. I always enjoy this part of the year, staying in Europe, playing on the clay and grass and practising at home.

I will be so nervous when I step on the court in the Fed Cup, but on the other hand I'll be happy to be playing again. It's been great practising with my Czech team-mates in Ostrava, I'm feeling well and I'm sure the rest has helped me.

Petra Kvitova was talking to BBC Sport's Piers Newbery

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