Petra Kvitova: Back in Top Form

Petra Kvitova
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Despite losing a close back and forth match at the finals of the Australian Open to Japan’s Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova has a lot to feel good about these days.

That’s because, just a little over two years ago, Kvitova was faced with a career-threatening injury when her left hand was severely damaged from a violent home invasion in her native Czech Republic.

However, a title at the Sydney International along with her stellar showing in Melbourne to start of the season is evidence that the two-time Wimbledon champ is back in top form.

Looking back at her journey, Kvitova introduced herself to the sporting world at Wimbledon in 2011 as a bright-eyed 21-year-old by powering her way past Maria Sharapova in straight sets to claim her maiden Grand Slam title.

“She has a very powerful game. When she uses that, that’s her strength. That’s how she wins matches, when she goes for her shots, and they’re very flat,” noted Sharapova after their 2011 match at the All England Club.

“She’s a Grand Slam champion. She has a tremendous amount of potential to go even further and achieve many great things,” added the former world No. 1 about Kvitova, who would also win the 2011 year-end event in Istanbul and would rise to world No. 2 in October of that year.

The six foot lefty from the Czech Republic would go on to win her second Wimbledon title in 2014 by simply dominating Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the final–which lasted only 55 minutes.

After capturing her second Wimbledon crown, Kvitova spoke about its significance and her desire to become the world No. 1.

“It mean(s) everything, definitely. I mean, it’s a Wimbledon. Tennis here is tennis history,” said the two-time Wimbledon champ.

“We will see what the future brings. I mean, it’s nice to be No.1, for sure. I will try everything what I can to be there,” she added.

While Kvitova has had her share of inconsistent results on the tennis courts since 2014, she has also had her share of unfortunate events off the courts.

In the spring of 2015, she contracted mononucleosis, which slowed her down the following season.

And after the completion of the 2016 season, Kvitova was violently robbed at her residence in the Czech Republic, which resulted in multiple injuries including a severely damaged left hand.

While she suffered tendon and nerve damage to her left hand, surgery to repair her injury would prove to be successful; and within six months, Kvitova was back competing on the tennis courts.

Kvitova made her comeback at the 2017 French Open where she would win her first match 6-3 6-2 against Julia Boserup before losing in straight sets in the second round.

The powerful lefty would regain her top form in 2018 as she picked up five titles which enabled her to return into the top five of the WTA rankings–less than two years after her violent attack which she says has changed her perspective on life and tennis.

As we jump to the present, it appears that Kvitova is physically back at 100 per cent; and the secret in how she wins her matches has not changed much from how Sharapova described it after their 2011 Wimbledon championship match.

That is, she still uses her powerful groundstrokes and variety to overwhelm her opponents.

Kvitova was definitely on top of her game at the 2019 Australian Open as she steamrolled through her opponents–not losing a single set–en route to her maiden Australian Open final.

In the finals, Kvitova faced off against 21-year-old Noami Osaka from Japan. The 28-year-old showed plenty of fight against the reigning US Open Champ as she erased three match points while serving at 4-5 in the second set and would eventually force a third set.

However, Osaka was able to prevail in the deciding set to win the match 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 22 minutes to claim her second consecutive Grand Slam title.

In her post match presser, Kvitova reflected on the difficult times she had during her recovery from the attack in December of 2016 and spoke about the significance of her overall performance at 2019’s first Major.

“I think it’s just probably more special after everything that I’ve been through,” she said.

“There were kind of moments and days when I didn’t really think positively that I could be in the finals of a Grand Slam anymore,” Kvitova added candidly. “I didn’t give up and that’s been the best part of this.”

Already with a win at the Sydney International to go with her run to the finals at the Australian Open, the 28-year-old is playing a very high level of tennis.

With that said, the two-time Wimbledon champ seems poised to make another run this season for her third career Grand Slam title–and just perhaps, that elusive World No. 1 ranking.