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Kvitova fighting to be fit for clay season

By Sheena McKenzie, for CNN
April 13, 2012 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
World No. 3 Petra Kvitova is hoping a tough fitness regime will deliver her to the top spot. World No. 3 Petra Kvitova is hoping a tough fitness regime will deliver her to the top spot.
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  • Petra Kvitova hopes grueling training regime will help mark a triumphant comeback
  • World No. 3 has been struggling for fitness and form in the past two months
  • Training routine in Turkey included long distance running in the sand and weight lifting
  • She will return this month in Fed Cup semifinals and then the Stuttgart clay event

(CNN) -- When Petra Kvitova won her first grand slam title at Wimbledon last year, many tipped the Czech to be the next world No.1.

However, the 22-year-old has not been able to repeat her stellar 2011 performances this year, struggling for form and fitness since losing in the semifinals of the Australian Open in January.

Now the world No. 3 is hoping that a grueling two-week training regime in Turkey will help put her back on track.

Long-distance running in the sand and weight lifting were all part of the punishing program ahead of Kvitova's WTA Tour return at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart at the end of this month.

"I need to improve my fitness part a lot," said Kvitova, who will first help the Czechs continue the defense of their Fed Cup title in the April 21-22 semifinal against Italy.

I feel tired right now but I hope that my fitness will show in the upcoming tournaments
Petra Kvitova

"I have a lot of space to improve every part of my fitness and after illness in February I needed to take this step. I am trying to get faster and stronger. We are running a lot in the sand, long distance too, doing some hill running and also we spend a lot of time in gym. I am exhausted every evening, but hopefully it's worth it."

February was not a good month for Kvitova, who was forced to pull out of the Qatar Open with an injured Achilles tendon. Her woes continued when just one week later she was struck down with a virus that ruled her out of the Dubai Championships.

Then came a disappointing third-round loss at Indian Wells to 33rd-ranked American teenager Christina McHale, and defeat at the first hurdle in Miami against former world No. 1 Venus Williams -- who was making her comeback after longterm illness.

"Unfortunately I've had a small problem with my stomach muscle, but nothing serious," Kvitova said.

"I can still do all the important exercises. I feel tired right now but I hope that my fitness will show in the upcoming tournaments."

The Fed Cup tie in Ostrava will be held on a hard-court indoor surface, then Kvitova will begin her clay season in Germany.

"If I want to win good matches and the close matches with the best players, I have to be fit," she said.

"The matches can be decided by very small things and one of these is fitness. I need to reach more balls and be able to play longer matches to stay at the top of the sport."

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