Petra Kvitova Photos: Picture Gallery of Strokes

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Petra Kvitova Photo #1: Backswing for Two-Handed Backhand

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Backswing for Two-Handed Backhand
Koji Watanabe / Getty Images

In this photo, Petra Kvitova sets up to hit her two-handed backhand in a mostly open stance. For most players, especially below the pro level, a two-hander is much easier to hit in a square stance, but by coiling her upper body as you see here, Petra can generate more power as she uncoils with the swing. Her shoulders are coiled 90 degrees in relation to her hips, and her racquet is laid back another 45 degrees or so from her shoulders. Petra's strong knee bend prepares her to generate a powerful upward thrust with her legs as she uncoils.

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Petra Kvitova Photo #2: Positioning for Backhand

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Positioning for Backhand
Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

While many players, even at the pro level, tend to get a little too close to the ball on their two-handed backhands and then adjust by leaning away, Petra Kvitova usually lines up at a fairly optimal distance. Petra is exceptionally good at striking the ball cleanly, and in part as a result, she can hit through a smaller margin over the net; therefore, she can hit with less topspin. In this photo, the position of Petra's racquet slightly below the ball indicates that she will hit with moderate topspin.

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Petra Kvitova Photo #3: Backhand Point of Contact

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Backhand Point of Contact
Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Photos of two-handers striking the ball always look especially ferocious, perhaps because the two-handed backhand enwraps so much of the body. Petra is meeting the ball at a great spot here, both on her racquet and in relation to her position, but can you see one flaw in her technique? She has already looked away from the ball, most likely toward where she expects it to go. The vast majority of tennis players can't help but do this, and many get away with it well, because they can project where the ball is going to be after they stop watching it, but the ideal technique is to keep your head locked onto your point of contact for a split second after you meet the ball, as Roger Federer so superbly does.

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Petra Kvitova Photo #4: Backhand Follow-Through

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Backhand Follow-Through
Michael Regan / Getty Images
The end result of the pronounced coil we saw in Kvitova's two-handed backswing is her huge coiling in the opposite direction on the follow-through. Petra's hips have uncoiled some 45 degrees past her feet, her shoulders nearly 90 degrees in relation to her hips; her racquet has wrapped around roughly 90 degrees past her shoulders.
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Petra Kvitova Photo #5: Forehand Backswing

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Forehand Backswing
Julian Finney / Getty Images

In this photo, Petra Kvitova gives us a nice demonstration of setting up to hit a square stance forehand. From this stance, most of her power will come from the upward drive of her legs and the forward drive of her weight transfer and arm motion. Before beginning her forward swing, Petra will drop her racquet below the ball so that she can brush her strings up its back to produce some topspin.

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Petra Kvitova Photo #6: Forehand Point of Contact

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Forehand Point of Contact
Koji Watanabe / Getty Images
This photo captures why you wouldn't want to be a tennis ball--especially one hit by Petra Kvitova. By the time the ball has flattened this much, it has also rolled down the stringbed as the strings brushed up its back; Petra initially met the ball a little above the centerline, and the ball will leave the stringbed a little below the centerline.
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Petra Kvitova Photo #7: Forehand Just After Contact

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Forehand Just After Contact
Paul Kane / Getty Images
In this photo, the rise of Petra's racquet in comparison to its forward travel after contact with the ball indicates her usual moderate topspin. Unlike in some of the previous photos, Petra is exercising excellent eye control, still looking at her point of contact after the ball has left her strings.
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Petra Kvitova Photo #8: Leg Thrust on Serve

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Leg Thrust on Serve
Julian Finney / Getty Images
In this photo, Petra Kvitova has just completed the upward leg thrust that begins the kinetic chain of the serve. With her racquet still in the dropped position, held by a loose arm and wrist, the energy from the large muscles of Petra's legs, torso, and shoulder will be transferred efficiently to her arm, as we'll see in the next photo.
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Petra Kvitova Photo #9: Elbow Straightening on Serve

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Elbow Straightening on Serve
Matt King / Getty Images
The photo captures the essence of the striking motion on a serve, the straightening of the elbow. Petra's powerful leg thrust that has lifted her well off the ground, the turning of her torso toward the net, and the upward rotation of her shoulder have all channeled energy from the muscles in those larger parts of her body into straightening her elbow and thus starting the racquet upward from its dropped position. At this stage, the racquet still forms a 90-degree angle with Petra's forearm, thus preparing for the final link in the kinetic chain, which we'll see in the next photo.
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Petra Kvitova Photo #10: Final Link in Serve Kinetic Chain

Photo of Petra Kvitova - Final Link in Serve Kinetic Chain
Pool / Getty Images

This photo captures the final link underway in the serve kinetic chain. The straightening of Petra's elbow has channeled all of the energy from the previous links into making her loose wrist whip the racquet upward and forward at a speed that would not otherwise be possible. Petra's wrist will whip (snap) at the instant her preceding motions make it happen, not at some moment she can deliberately and independently choose.