One of the more feel good stories in tennis over the past month has been the return of Petra Kvitova. The Czech’s career almost ended after a horrifying attack but only 5 months later she was able to make her return in Paris. An opening round gimme against Julia Boserup allowed her to begin her comeback with a victory but she would be defeated in two tiebreak sets in the next round by Bethanie Mattek Sands. However, a return with no further damage was much better news for her than making a few more rounds at a slam she generally struggles at.
Two Wimbledon titles and some sublime tennis to go with it shows that Kvitova is most at home on the grass, with her first tournament on the surface coming at Birmingham this year. She was granted a wildcard to add star power to a tournament depleted by a number of top 10 withdrawals as well as that of Maria Sharapova. With Serena Williams out for the year due to her pregnancy, a third Wimbledon title could be a very realistic prospect for her despite such a long absence with little in the way of tuneup matches save for this tournament.
The opponents so far may not have been as tough as they could be given the entry list for this tournament but Petra has been having little issue so far. She has yet to be broken through her 2 matches, winning 58 of 68 (85%) first serve points, losing just 2 in the last round against Naomi Broady. Even more impressively, she has displayed some incredibly clean striking which rewarded her with 25 winners to just 11 unforced errors against Broady.
Although there little to compare for the nature of Kvitova’s injury, injury has often forced players to change their technique. Juan Martin Del Potro’s wrist injuries forcing him to alter his backhand technique, for the worse, is a notable example of this. Thankfully for Kvitova there has been little sign that anything needs to change just yet although that might change as usage increases. “No changes, nothing after the Paris, which is good. We were practicing on the hard court, so it was a little bit of transfer. We are still worried about the hand, so we are not practicing that much. We still have days off to work on my hand, and it was very good today.”
While Kvitova is happy so far with her return, she does recognise there is room for improvement. “I still think that I feel the first serve should be a little bit better placement, for example. I didn’t think I am moving bad, which is a good sign always so I can be there on time and have good timing with the shots. But I think some kind of easy shots I can still play a little bit better.” she said after her win over Broady.
Possibly next up for Kvitova is an opponent on a much higher level in Kristina Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman is fresh off a quarter final run at the French Open and was one of the more impressive players on the clay in general. She defeated Ying Ying Duan in her opening round match and will face another Chinese player in round two on Thursday afternoon, still think that I feel the first serve should be a little bit better placement, for example. I didn’t think I am moving bad, which is a good sign always so I can be there on time and have good timing with the shots. But I think some kind of easy shots I can still play a little bit better, Shuai Zhang.