Kvitova pulls out of Dubai Open

DUBAI: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova’s hope of challenging for the world number 1spot took another blow when she was forced to retire for a second tournament in a row.

The fierce-hitting left-hander from theCzechRepublic has decided she had not recovered sufficiently from a virus to compete at the Dubai Open, starting here Monday.

Kvitova also withdrew from last week’s Qatar Open inDoha, and is likely remain inPrague until shortly before she competes again, probably at Indian Wells in the first week in March.

Kvitova reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open inMelbourne last month, and it was after competing again, only a few days later, in a Fed Cup match againstGermany, that she started to feel unwell.

It means that there will be a delay in the next episode of her burgeoning rivalry with world number one Victoria Azarenka, whom she has beaten in their last four meetings, and whom she had been seeded to meet in Saturday’s final.

It also brings a pause to a tremendous rise which saw Kvitova move from world number 34 at the start of 2011 to within striking distance of the pinnacle, winning six tournaments during the year.

However Kvitova will not fall from the world number three position, because she has fewer ranking points to defend than Caroline Wozniacki, the runner-up inDoha last year and the defending champion inDubai this week.