Fan-craving Petra Kvitova thanks little ball boy

A little ball boy peeking from behind a fence gave Petra Kvitova the only touch of the fan support she misses at a Prague tournament played behind closed doors. "It was after I played a decent passing shot down the line," said Kvitova, after she beat doubles specialist Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets on Tuesday. "I ended up near the fence and he said 'nice one!' to me. So I answered: 'Thank you'," the two-time Wimbledon champion chuckled.

But she conceded it felt "very weird" to play without an audience at the tournament marked by strict hygienic measures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. "The audience is crucial, it's an engine for me," said the 30-year-old world number 12. "It feels very strange. I thought I might cheer for myself quite a few times or say something aloud and then I decided not to," she said of the rather solemn atmosphere.

Her two friends sitting by the court called on her to "tear" a few times, while her coach limited himself to just a few subdued "pojd" ("come on"), which is Kvitova's trademark cheer. "I thought at least the coach could clap for me and it didn't happen. It was really weird," said Kvitova.

And, recalling the ball boy moment, she added: "It was a good shot. Normally I would have yelled."

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