PERTH Petra Kvitova admits the attention surrounding her attempt to overhaul Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the women's tennis rankings is getting on her nerves.
Kvitova demolished Tsvetana Pironkova on Monday as the top-seeded Czech Republic defeated Bulgaria 2-1 to drive home their position as favourites for the Hopman Cup title.
Kvitova was a convincing 6-4 6-2 winner over Pironkova before team mate Tomas Berdych trumped Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-7 (9-11) 6-3. Bulgaria won the mixed doubles 2-6 6-3 (11-9) to save face in the Group A clash.
After a breakthrough year in which she won Wimbledon and the WTA Championships, surged from 34th to second in the world and led the Czech Republic to victory in the Fed Cup, Kvitova trails Denmark's Wozniacki by a mere 115 points in the rankings.
She could leapfrog Wozniacki by the end of the month if she fares better at the Sydney International and Australian Open tournaments.
Should Kvitova achieve that goal, she would become the Czech Republic's first world number one since the reign of her idol Martina Navratilova ended in 1987.
Kvitova and Wozniacki will clash at the Hopman Cup on Friday in what could set the tone for the Australian summer.
Wozniacki leads their head-to-head 3-2 but Kvitova won their two most important meetings last year, at Wimbledon and the WTA Championships at Istanbul.
Quietly spoken and modest, Kvitova said constant talk about her rivalry with Wozniacki was beginning to wear thin.
"Sometimes it's crazy that everywhere you go, you get the same questions being asked," Kvitova told reporters.
"I know that for you (the media) it's important to know about it but for me, I just want to play and try to have fun on court," she added.
"Last year in the four grand slams we had four different winners so it's not only about me even though I have won a grand slam and I know the feeling. It would be nice to feel that again in Australia.
"But it was only one year ago that I was number 34 and I am still getting used to this. I want to improve every part of my game and not be focused on being ranked number one."
Asked if she would rather win another major title or be number one, Kvitova replied: "Ok, I will say it... both."
Berdych had his work cut out against a 20-year-old Bulgarian nicknamed 'Prime Time' for his supreme shotmaking skills, flawless technique and near-certain rise to the serious end of the rankings.
Dimitrov held his nerve in the marathon second-set tiebreaker but his third set was a symphony of unforced errors, as Berdych eventually prevailed in 125 minutes.
Berdych's loss with Kvitova in the mixed doubles took his Hopman record in that form to 0-7. "It was not my best effort," he said. "But we won the tie and that's all that matters. The mixed doesn't count when we have already won both the singles."
Wozniacki was due to begin her Hopman Cup campaign later on Monday when Denmark take on the U.S.
(Editing by John O'Brien)