Petra Kvitova said yesterday that she didn’t like the idea of majors being played behind closed doors which is what the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening.
Playing a Grand Slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn't look nice to me and the Grand Slams don’t deserve it Petra Kvitova
Both the US Open and the rescheduled French Open are considering that as a last resort but the two-time Wimbledon champion confirmed that she is very much against the idea of playing in empty stadiums at Flushing Meadows or Roland Garros.
“I have my age and of course I would like to play another Grand Slam, but if it’s like this, I’d rather cancel them,” Kvitova said as she prepared to compete in the first of four competitions for charity organised for Czech players in Prague.
“Playing a Grand Slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn’t look nice to me and the Grand Slams don’t deserve it,” she added.
This year’s French Open has been moved to September, Wimbledon has been cancelled and the professional tours will not resume until at least 20 July due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile the week’s competition in Prague involves eight men and eight women in separate draws under strict pandemic rules with no spectators though there are umpires and ballboys who are not be allowed to handle towels on court. The matches however, will be televised.
“It’s not etiquette not to shake hands and just give a racquet bump, I think that’s the most unpleasant thing I’m in for,” the powerful lefthander, a former world number two who has slipped to 12, continued.
“We are here to reintroduce tennis not only to the Czech Republic, but also to the world.
“The hardest thing will be to find the rhythm, we haven’t played a match for a very long time,” said Kvitova, who faces doubles specialist Barbora Krejcikova in her opening match today.
“I hope nobody expects us to play fantastic tennis, because it may happen or it may not,” added the Czech No.2 wearing a face mask which, she said, had a good thing about it: “I don’t have to wear a make-up!”
World number three and thetop female Czech, Karolina Pliskova has pulled out of the women’s hardcourt draw as she recovers from a back injury, while 18th-ranked Marketa Vondrousova is getting ready for the final exams at her secondary school.
“It won’t be the same thing as a regular tournament,” said Jiri Vesely, the 65th-ranked top seed in the men’s competition.
“There are no points to play for, no plot, there will be no fans. But of course we are looking forward to the games and we’ll try to play our best tennis,” he added.