Petra Kvitova is on a personal journey of self-discovery as she adapts to life on tour without a coach, having parted ways with David Kotyza putting an end to their seven-year working relationship.
The Czech, seeded No4 in Dubai, is flying solo this week and says she parted ways with Kotyza because she felt she had not been improving.
Kvitova started with working with Kotyza in 2008 and the pair won two Wimbledon titles together – in 2011 and 2014. Their split, announced earlier this month, came as a complete shock to the tennis following and the 25-year-old admits she does not have a set time frame on when she’ll be hiring a replacement.
For now, Kvitova is keen on enjoying some peace and quiet in Dubai, where she is seeking a second title to the one she won here in 2013, which she incidentally captured without having Kotyza by her side.
“It was a long relationship and I just felt I needed some new input into my game and that’s what I did,” Kvitova told reporters in Dubai on Sunday.
“I split with David but we are still pretty close. It’s not like we’re not talking with each other but of course he’s not my coach anymore.
“Now I don’t have any coach, I’m by myself and I’m kind of enjoying this thing and I hope that those kind of things will help my game.
“I just feel this step is important for me to find out what I want, what I need to do, and how I can play well again so I think it’s a good word: evolution.
“I didn’t feel that I’m improving so that is why I made this change (to split from coach) and I hope it is going to help me. I think that I can play better than I am playing right now. I think physically I can be better again. I think it’s many things in my game that I can reach.
Kvitova says she has “no idea” and when she will hire a new coach but she is looking to find a sparring partner to join her for the US hard-court swing at Indian Wells and Miami.
She joked that yes, she is aware that she is completely alone on Valentine’s Day but insists she is fine with it and is looking forward to handle things by herself.
“I just feel more free than I felt before. I’m just on my own and I just think that this kind of stuff like in practice, off the court, everything is about me and I’m thinking about the game and about what I’m going to do,” said the ex-world No2.
“So I’m just a little bit learning myself. I have a responsibility, of course. It is my job and my game, so everything is on me.”
Kvitova has only played four completed matches in 2016, having fallen sick at the start of the season.
She retired from her first match of the year in Shenzhen and fell in the second round at the Australian Open to Daria Gavrilova.
She initially wasn’t coming to Dubai but requested a wildcard in order to get some more matches under her belt.
Kvitova lost both her Fed Cup matches against Romania last week but says she was happy with her form in her three-set defeat to Simona Halep.
The Czech ace knows she is lacking consistency in terms of making deep runs in every tournament throughout the season and believes it is an area she can definitely improve upon.
As for handling all the logistics by herself now that she has no coach to schedule her practices and make arrangements, Kvitova insists she is up for the job.
“Yes I am ready to deal with all of that,” she said.
“I think it’s important sometimes for a person to be by themselves. Sometimes you need the space, and the peace so you can think a lot.
“I can’t say I am come here with confidence right now but it’s nice that I can play some more matches, I have good memories of course and I’ll do my best to go as far as I can.”
On whether she worries about the loneliness that can creep in while on tour, Kvitova said: “I think it’s a bit more difficult for the women than for the men. You are away from your family, and from your boyfriends and it’s a little bit difficult. But I think it’s for a couple of years and then you can be home.
“Of course sometimes it’s not easy, I will not lie, but that’s part of this. I’m okay right now, it’s Valentine’s Day but I’m okay. I’m totally fine.”
Kvitova has a bye in the first round and awaits the winner of the match between Ekaterina Makarova and Madison Brengle.
Sport360's Reem Abulleil analyses the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2016 draw, discusses the last-minute withdrawals from Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber and the contenders for the event in the city.
The Championships gets underway on Monday with defending champion Simona Halep being named top seed after being given a wildcard, having previously battled injury in recent weeks.
Follow Sport360.com throughout the tournament for video analysis, reaction and interviews.
Tennis Emirates, the governing body of the sport in the UAE, are working hard – with the help of Dubai Duty Free – to develop the game in the country but secretary general Sara Baker admits that finding Arabic-speaking female coaches has been a real challenge.
With the 16th edition of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships set to commence tomorrow, the absence of local talent in the draw has become an obvious yet regrettable reality but Baker insists Emirati females will soon spring up in the big leagues.
“We work very much together with Dubai Duty Free. It’s been 16 years since the launch of this women’s tournament. I don’t think it should take us, as a federation, 16 years to bring up a top player in the UAE,” Baker told Sport360.
“We’ve already started very young now. We have three young girls that are in the federation, that we’re working very hard with. We’re starting with youth development – eventually we will have three more, of a younger age, and it’ll go up so we will not have any gaps.
“We also have gaps with the boys, it’s not only with the girls, so that’s what we want to build upon.”
“Our only problem right now is finding female trainers that speak Arabic.
“There are lots of English-speaking coaches but when it comes to locals, if we were to go to public schools, you’ll have to have someone who speaks the Arabic language in order to do that.
“So what we’re doing, with the support of the Dubai Duty Free who give a lot of financial support for development, is we train some PE teachers that have the passion for tennis, in order to start with young girls and then once we pick the ones that have potential then we bring a proper coach and move forward.
“So we’re supporting Dubai Duty Free and they’re supporting us.”
The lack of a national tennis centre to provide a home for all local players to train and develop has also been a hindrance to the progress of the sport in the UAE.
Asked if a new centre is on the horizon, Baker said: “I’m very much pushing for it. Hopefully in 2016 you’ll hear that something is happening.”