Kvitova No.1 hopes dashed but Open ahead


Petra Kitova’s hopes of usurping Caroline Wozniacki as world number one were delayed after her loss Thursday in Sydney, but it is full steam ahead for next week’s Australian Open. The Czech left-hander, coming off a landmark 2011 where she won Wimbledon, the WTA Championships and four other WTA titles, was poised to topple Wozniacki from top of the rankings if she had won the Sydney International. But despite a brilliant start in her semi-final clash against the Sydney defending champion Li Na, she failed to capitalise and the Chinese star made an impressive comeback, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. The exit before the final of both top players — Wozniacki crashed out to in the quarter-finals — makes the year’s opening grand slam in Melbourne starting Monday an even more exciting prospect. Kvitova has had the better start to 2012 and goes to Melbourne armed with a six-match preparation at the Hopman Cup — where she defeated Wozniacki in a close-fought three-setter — and the Sydney International. “This match we played today was great for my preparation,” Kvitova said, keeping positive after the loss. “These two weeks were great when I played some good matches. “The next one is Melbourne, so hopefully I will be better and not really as tired as now.” Much attention ahead of the Australian Open has focused on Wozniacki’s reign at number one, now in its 65th week, despite the player not yet winning a grand slam in 19 attempts. But the Dane shrugs off the talk that has dogged her over the merits of her ranking, and the prospect of Kvitova overtaking her. “To be honest, I don’t think about it (losing top ranking),” Wozniacki said. “The most important thing is to be healthy and be able play and play well. What happens happens. It doesn’t matter.”