Kvitova off to perfect start


World number two Petra Kvitova made a perfect start to 2012 as the top-seeded Czech Republic saw off Bulgaria at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Australia on Monday.
Kvitova opened her new campaign with a straight-sets win over Tsvetana Pironkova as the Czechs took the Group A tie 2-1.
Although the 46th-ranked Pironkova was highly competitive, Kvitova had too much power, winning 6-4, 6-2 in 75 minutes.
Wimbledon champion Kvitova admitted there was added pressure on her heading into 2012 compared to 12 months earlier, when she was ranked 34th in the world.
“Every season is different,” she said. “One year ago I was 34, now I am two at the start of the season and everyone is seeing me on the court for the first time, and it’s not always easy to play on the court.
“The first match for the year is always tough, but I played well.”
Kvitova, who is hot on the heels of Hopman Cup rival Caroline Wozniacki, could secure the top world ranking within weeks.
Her team-mate, the world number seven Tomas Berdych, secured the overall tie with a hard-fought three-sets win over talented youngster Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-7 (9/11), 6-3.
The Bulgarians earned a consolation by staving off three match points to win a marathon dead mixed-doubles rubber 2-6, 6-3, 11-9.
Berdych had lost his only previous encounter to the gifted Dimitrov, but prevailed in what was a high-standard singles clash to start the year.
“He’s going to be really dangerous this year,” Berdych said. “It gives you even more confidence to have the first win of the year and even to play a really solid game like it was today, so I’m happy for that.”