Petra Kvitova after withdrawing from the WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Getty Images
What Petra Kvitova thought was a bad case of opening-night nerves has been diagnosed as a viral illness. So what Sam Stosur thought was standby duty at the $4.9 million WTA Championships will become a two-match round-robin program that starts tonight against her French Open semi-final conqueror Sara Errani.
Kvitova's withdrawal after Tuesday's emotional 6-3, 6-2 loss to Agneiszka Radwanska provides the ninth-ranked Stosur with an opportunity to finish a moderate season on a positive note. And although the Australian faces a difficult task to qualify for Saturday's semi-finals from a group completed by Maria Sharapova - needing to beat her long-time nemesis here for the second year in a row and rely on Radwanska dropping a match - there is still the prospect of a Christmas bonus, with $115,000 awarded for each round-robin win.
"I came to Istanbul straight from Moscow where I played on Sunday, so I got here late, so obviously it is a little bit strange to come here straight after playing a tournament as an alternate and now get a chance to play in the Championships,'' Stosur said.
"Obviously, it's never good when a player pulls out, but I will make the best of the opportunity and look forward to playing tomorrow. I am at Championships for the third time and really happy to be here in Istanbul."
The Czech, meanwhile, returned home immediately to Prostejov for further medical assessments, in the hope she will be healthy to contest the Fed Cup final in Prague on 3-4 November.
"Yesterday when I played I thought that it's nerves, but normally nerves are gone after first set. It was actually during all the match, so I thought that it's something wrong. That's why I have to pull out,'' said an apologetic Kvitova, the defending champion. "I mean, I never withdraw from a tournament. I don't like to give up, so I'm feeling really disappointed. I hope that Sam will win some matches for me.
"I try my best to be ready for the Fed Cup. It's final at home and I really want to play in front of our crowd, my family and friends, and try to win the Fed Cup title again. So I will try my best to be ready for the weekend.''
Kvitova said she suspected a stomch virus. "I was shaking all match and I wasn't feeling very well. My stomach felt really funny. After one rally with Agnieszka I couldn't breathe, so that's why maybe it looks so easy (for her) and I had a lot of errors then.
"I mean, after that I felt still the stomach not really well. I had the diarrhea yesterday also in the morning. I didn't have a fever or something, so that's the symptoms what I had... But I think it's a lot of things. I have a sore throat already from this morning. I know that if I'm not really 100 per cent ready for compete with these girls on this level, I know that I can't play. That's why I'm withdrawing.''