There are a few things not to like about Petra Kvitova's game -- but not many. Today, in a one-sided 6-4, 6-2 victory over reigning world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki (which qualified Kvitova for the semis at the WTA Championships), there were even less. Sure, there was the occasional botched volley from a winning position, and yes, there were a few errors in judgment in which Kvitova went for too much when just a little would have been more appropriate.
But if you're not being nitpicky like I am, you could only sum up Kvitova's performance today one way: Awesome.
We must remember that Kvitova is a player who finished 2010 outside of the top 30. Her rise to her current perch at No. 3 in the world has been nothing short of stunning, and to top it off, most pundits agree that she has the most potential of anybody in the top 10 to continue to improve by leaps and bounds.
She'll turn 22 in March, and she's nearly four months older than her victim today, Caroline Wozniacki, but in terms of big match experience, Kvitova's just getting her feet wet.
What we saw in Madrid, where she took out three top 10 players en route to the title, and Wimbledon, where she won her first Grand Slam, appears to be a recurring dream for Kvitova -- and a recurring nightmare for the rest of the field.
The 6' lefty has the ability to completely dominate any and all comers, and it seems that the only thing that holds her back on a regular basis is herself. That's been a concern, to be sure, and until she can avoid major setbacks like the one she suffered in the first round of the US Open, there will still be a questions marks about her potential to be the next multiple Slam winner on the WTA Tour.
But with her play in the first two rounds in Istanbul, she is erasing some of those doubts.
The question that can only be answered by time is: Can Kvitova become more consistent, or will she always be prone to long bouts of head-scratching ineffectiveness? It's a fair question, too. Kvitova could definitely benefit from a dose of the cerebral. She seems to prefer to hit only two ways, hard and harder, but if she wants to avoid giving points and matches away to lesser talented players she'll need to find a way to win when her game isn't firing on all cylinders. She'll need to know herself better, and she'll need to possess the mental toughness to switch personas and become a grinder at times during matches.
Can she do this? Sure.
Will she? Let's stay tuned and find out.
There are also facets of Kvitova's game that would benefit from some fine tuning. She was in perfect position to knock off several volleys today against Wozniacki, but failed to execute. Once, she didn't set her feet with a split step, and on another occasion -- on match point, no less -- she went for a huge swing volley when an angled touch volley would have been more than enough. Just imagine how deadly Kvitova would be if she added a world class net game to her arsenal. Yowza.
Still, in spite of some poor shot selection and some sketchy volleys, Kvitova was a terror from the baseline today, smashing winners to all corners of the court, and serving aggressively throughout the match to keep the Wozniacki return game at bay.
Like many, I feel that it's just a matter of time before the young Czech stakes her claim as the world No. 1 and the dominant force in today's game. On days like today, it feels like that time will come sooner than later.
Are you ready for the era of Petra? Is Petra ready? Ah, so many questions...