Dubai: A knife attack little more than two years ago had left Petra Kvitova shattered — with her career in serious jeopardy. The Czech showed tremendous resilience to pull herself together and is now among the frontrunners to clinch this weekend’s women’s singles crown at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Shortly before Christmas 2016, Kvitova was robbed at her home in the Czech Republic by a knife-wielding attacker.
Last week, the tennis player told a Czech court how she grabbed her attacker’s knife and forced it away from her neck. The resultant attack left her with severe wounds with tendon and nerve injuries to her playing left hand.
More than 25 months later, the two-time Wimbledon champion fancies herself as one of those in line for the title when the final is played next Saturday.
“Every tournament is difficult and this one is unbelievable. We have so many great players playing here, and of course, it’s always tough to win a tournament and it will be the same here,” Kvitova told media after the official draw ceremony at The Majlis of the Dubai Tennis Stadium on Saturday.
Seeded No. 2, the 28-year-old Kvitova was joined by fellow players Caroline Wozniacki and Eugenie Bouchard in the presence of Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman and CEO, Dubai Duty Free tournament director Salah Tahlak, Roberta Calarese, board member of Tennis Emirates, Ramesh Cidambi, chief operating officer, Dubai Duty Free, WTA Tour Supervisor Donna Kelso and Sinead El Sibai, senior vice-president Marketing, Dubai Duty Free.
“It [final] is a long way to go so I’m not thinking of that,” she added.
Last month, Kvitova played one of the best matches of her career when she fought her way back to nearly upset current world number one Osaka at the 2019 Australian Open final. A few weeks have passed since then and Kvitova still finds it painful. “Finally, I’m getting over it [the final]. It was kind of painful after the final but overall, it was a great start to the year and I’m very happy about that,” she said.
“I missed last year so I’m happy to be here again. You always have best memories when you win a title somewhere, so it’s great to be back,” she added.
Challenging the Japanese top seed will be two-time defending champion and world number seven Elina Svitolina in the same quarter of the draw, 2013 Dubai champion and Australian Open runner-up and world No. 2 Petra Kvitová, world No. 3 and 2015 champion Simona Halep and former world No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber.
“There’s no doubt that we have the best entry this year,” McLoughlin told media. “We are always looking at raising the bar at this event. This year too is no different as we try to make this tournament an event for all,” he added.
Former champion Wozniacki also faces a tough draw as she will need to overcome not only a confident Samantha Stosur but the after effects of a virus that last week forced her out of the Qatar Open and into bed.
“We have four wild card entries, namely Eugenie Bouchard, Sara Errani, Samantha Stosur and the Gulf region’s Fatma Al Nabhani,” Tahlak announced.