Petra Kvitova: 6 Reasons She's a Legit Challenger for the No. 1 Spot

Alex SandersonCorrespondent IIIJuly 3, 2011

Petra Kvitova: 6 Reasons She's a Legit Challenger for the No. 1 Spot

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    After an excellent fortnight of tennis in capturing the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, Czech Republic lefty Petra Kvitova has proven herself as a top women's tennis player.

    Now that she has won her first grand slam, Kvitova sets her sights on the top ranking on the WTA tour. Here are six reasons she has a chance to do just that.

Wozniacki Yet to Establish Herself on Grand Slam Stage

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    Caroline Wozniacki is the current world's number one ranked player, and has been so for awhile now. She has clearly proven herself at the smaller tournaments and has won a lot of matches to earn that ranking.

    However, the problem with Wozniacki is that she constantly comes up short in the grand slams. She has only reached one major final, and that was well before she became the No. 1 player in the world.

    A major part of winning on the biggest stages is the mental aspect of the game. Kvitova showed that she was ready for the moment at the All-England Club, knocking off three-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova in the finals.

    Now that she has won one, the door is open for her to win more grand slam titles. This gives her a substantial edge over Wozniacki, as there are more points to obtain by winning grand slams.

Time off for Serena Williams

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    When healthy, American Serena Williams is still clearly the best tennis player in the women's game today. However, after missing almost a year due to injury and illness, her ranking is in the 100's.

    Williams will probably win at least a few more majors in the near future, but is unlikely to re-capture the top ranking. She has never been one to play a heavy schedule and as older player now that is not going to change.

    With Williams out of the way, Kvitova has a easier path to the top. The Czech has as much talent as anyone else in the world and knows how to perform under pressure.

Success Against Top Players

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    Kvitova has had a really strong 2011 season, as her win at Wimbledon was her fourth title. A major impetus for those results has been her record against top players.

    The young Czech has two wins over Victoria Azarenka in 2011 as well as wins over Li Na, Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters. All of those players are women that also have chances at the No. 1 ranking in the near future.

    Aside from defeating Sharapova in the Wimbledon finals, her two wins over Azarenka have to be the most impressive for Kvitova. The two players are about the same age and are expected to be at the top of women's tennis for years to come.

    In order to be at the top of the sport, you have to be able to defeat the other top players in the game consistently. For example, this year Novak Djokovic finally captured the top spot after going 7-1 against Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer heading into the finals of Wimbledon.

Lefty Factor

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    Being a left-hander gives Kvitova a nice advantage even before she steps out on the court, especially on the WTA tour. There are hardly any women's players that are lefties, let alone top players.

    Kvitova's game changes the rhythm that her opponents normally see against most other opponents. This goes for everything from serve returns to rallies from the baseline.

    The most recent example of left-handed success in tennis has been Nadal. He is actually naturally right-handed but his coach (Uncle Toni Nadal) suggested he played left-handed from a young age.

    Nadal is close to becoming the greatest of all-time in his sport, certainly helped by his edge over rival Federer. The lefty game of Nadal has probably paid the most dividends in his matchup against the 16-time grand slam Swiss champion.

    In a game that can be decided by just a couple of swings of the racquet here and there, Kvitova can certainly use her lefty essence to give her a slight edge. Just ask Sharapova, a normally world-class returner, how hard it can be to handle her serve.

All-Court Game

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    Kvitova's four tour titles this season include wins on each of the three surfaces. Her ability to play on all different surfaces gives her a nice edge over most other competitors.

    Many players tend to have a surface where they do particularly well on and/or one surface that hinders them. For example, the game of Wozniacki does not transform well to the grass, as she has been knocked out at Wimbledon in the fourth round the last three years.

    The lefty's best grand slam event to this point has been Wimbledon, and the grasscourt will probably end up being her most successful surface. But she has more than proven that she is comfortable anywhere that she plays.

Only Getting Better

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    Heading into the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, Kvitova was a virtually unknown player. She had only won seven matches all season, and she was ranked just 62 in the world.

    She made a run all the way to the semifinals where she had a competitive match against eventual champion Serena Williams. She actually lost her next five matches after Wimbledon and didn't really close out 2010 well.

    This season, however, has been much different for the young lefty. She has come on very strong to establish herself firmly among the best in the world.

    Kvitova's first strike, aggressive game has been very kind to her in 2011. Her strong serving performances have also been a key for her.

    The Czech has been working on her moment, but it can still get better. Her biggest improvements need to come in the consistency factor. She has the tendency to have some bad stretches in matches that could really end up limiting her extreme potential.

    In one year's time, Kvitova has gone from never winning a match on grass to being the champion of Wimbledon. That alone says she has improved her game already and means she will continue to do so.