Paris: Petra Kvitova said on Sunday’s first-round victory at the French Open felt like winning twice as the Czech star made an emotional return from a harrowing knife attack at her home in December.
The two-time Wimbledon champion swept aside American Julia Boserup 6-3, 6-2 in her first match since suffering career-threatening injuries to her left playing hand when she tackled an intruder at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov.
“I came here as a winner already,” said Kvitova, who returned to action at Roland Garros after almost six months out.
“When we were thinking about playing here I told my coaches I wanted to come and win my first match. That was a dream. The motivation I had today was amazing — and I really just didn’t want to lose.
“This match was special to me. I won for the second time, if I can say that.”
Kvitova was left fighting to save her career after the attack, admitting earlier in the week that her hand was “still not 100%”.
However, the 15th seed won the opening point of the match with a sweeping cross-court forehand to set the tone for a convincing victory in just 74 minutes over world No. 86 Boserup.
“The first point was amazing. I surprised myself with the forehand winner straightaway. It felt weird but great, as well.
“It wasn’t really about the game. I mean, I had big motivation, and I know that I was going to do everything I can even if I should just run from side to side to win it.
The 27-year-old received a warm welcome on Phillipe Chatrier court. She initially kept her emotions in check before finally shedding a few tears after sealing her place in round two.
“My team was there. My family was there. Everyone who helped me through the difficult time. So it was a real pleasure to play in front of them and play how I played,” said Kvitova, whose team wore black t-shirts emblazoned with the words “courage” and “belief”.
“I think I played well after six months off. I’m happy with the game, of course, but I mean, it wasn’t really about the game today.
“Yesterday I was thinking how everything will be, and I couldn’t really imagine how that’s going to be. I maybe thought that I would cry when I step on the court, but I didn’t today.
“I was happy, because normally I can control my emotion on the court, so I’m happy that I kind of did it, as well, this time.
“In the end, I didn’t have to anymore. So, yeah, few tears for after the match point. Of course going as a winner from the centre court was much better than stepping on the court.”
Kvitova provided a reassuring assessment of the condition of her hand, saying she hadn’t experienced any pain while on court.
“I didn’t feel any differences, which is nice,” she said.
“I promised my doctor, who gave me the green light, that if I feel pain in my hand during the match or in the practice, I’m stopping immediately.”
A French Open semi-finalist in 2012, Kvitova will face Bethanie Mattek-Sands or Evgeniya Rodina in the next round.
Guillermo Garcma-Lspez (ESP) bt Gilles Muller (LUX x26) 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-2
Pablo Carreqo-Busta (ESP x20) bt Florian Mayer (GER) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) bt Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x11) bt Stiphane Robert (FRA) 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
Horacio Zeballos (ARG) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-5, 6-3, 6-4
Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) bt Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 3-1 — retired
Albert Ramos (ESP x19) bt Marius Copil (ROM) 6-7 (7/9), 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) bt Angelique Kerber (GER x1) 6-2, 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Louisa Chirico (USA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Msnica Puig (PUR) bt Roberta Vinci (ITA x31) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (CZE x15) bt Julia Boserup (USA) 6-3, 6-2
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x8) bt Christina McHale (USA) 7-5, 6-4
Shelby Rogers (USA) bt Marina Erakovic (NZL) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI x30) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-1, 6-2
Madison Brengle (USA) bt Julia Goerges (GER) 1-6, 6-3, 13-11