BY GODWIN AIKIGBE
Tennis star Petra Kvitova has reflected on her 2017 season, describing it as season of love and emotion.
She posted a lengthy statement on Instagram on Wednesday, thanking her fans for their support when she suffered a knife attack at her home shortly before Christmas in 2016.
The statement reads: “I have been thinking a lot about how to explain my feelings on my 2017 season. Sometimes words can’t describe enough what we hold in our hearts. This season was all about love and emotion. It’s tough to write for you how much I appreciated your support, the depth of love from my family, friends and team. When I needed you all the most, you were there. Without you and the special people around me, I can’t be where I am. I am grateful to have a second chance to play tennis again, to compete with the best in the world and to do what I love. Thank you for believing in me! 2017 was very very special and will always stay in my heart. And you know what I learned guys? If you have courage, belief, p❤️jd and the right people in your life, anything is possible.”
COMEBACK FROM KNIFE ATTACK
During the off-season in 2016, going into 2017, Kvitová announced Jiří Vaněk as her new coach. However, shortly before Christmas, she was robbed at her home in the Czech Republic by a knife-wielding attacker, which resulted in tendon and nerve injuries to her left hand.
She was initially expected to be sidelined for six months, but following good progress in her recovery, Kvitová announced in late May that she would return to competition at the French Open, a month ahead of schedule.
She kicked off her Paris comeback with a win against American Julia Boserup in the first round. However, she lost to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the following round in straight sets.
Kvitová began the grass court swing at the Aegon Classic Birmingham, where she defeated both Tereza Smitková and Naomi Broady in straight sets to reach her first quarterfinal of 2017, also her first on grass since the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. There, she took down fifth seed Kristina Mladenovic to reach the last four, where she moved past Lucie Šafářová. In the final, she beat Ashleigh Barty in three sets for her milestone 20th career title. However, she then suffered another loss in the second round of Wimbledon, this time to Madison Brengle in three sets.
During the US Open series, Kvitová posted a quarterfinal appearance in Stanford, but then lost early in Toronto and Cincinnati, both at that the hands of the resurgent Sloane Stephens, before bowing out in the opening round of New Haven to Zhang Shuai.
However, she bounced back at the US Open by beating the likes of Jelena Janković, Alizé Cornet and 18th seed Caroline Garcia to reach the fourth round. There, she saw off third seed Garbiñe Muguruza to sail into her tenth Grand Slam quarterfinal where she was stopped by ninth seed Venus Williams in three sets.
Kvitová kicked off the Asian swing in Wuhan where she was the defending champion and faced local player Peng Shuai at the first hurdle, but came up short in an epic three-set match that lasted three hours and 34 minutes. The match is the longest of Kvitová’s career to date.
At the China Open, she moved past fellow Czech Kristýna Plíšková and American Varvara Lepchenko to reach the round of 16 where saw off fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. She then beat Barbora Strýcová to reach the semifinals but there, she was defeated by eventual champion Garcia in straight sets. The loss meant that for the first time since 2010, Kvitová did not win a Premier Mandatory or Premier 5 title during a season.
She then lost in the first round of Tianjin to Zhu Lin in three sets. As a result of not qualifying for the WTA Elite Trophy where she was the defending champion, Kvitová fell out of the top 20 rankings for the first time since January 2011.