Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova feels she has added a different element to her play making her a more complete athlete on court.

Champion in Dubai in 2011, Kvitova has been through the ups and downs of life — including a knife attack at her home in December 2016 — to emerge a much stronger person.

“I’m glad I can be here again,” she said. “I do have the best memories from this city and from this venue. I am really enjoying this time here. I don’t really have any extra motivation. My motivation is the same as every other week and I’m glad to be here and play again.

“I don’t know how many years it is [since I won in Dubai]. I do remember that I was here alone, without my coach, without anyone actually. I just played by myself, by my thoughts. That probably is the strongest memory I have from the tournament.”

Since turning professional in 2006, Kvitova has gone on to win 26 singles titles, two of which are Grand Slams — Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014. She did have an opportunity for a third when she made it to the final at the Australian Open in Melbourne last month, but came up against Japan’s relentless Naomi Osaka, who won and went on to be crowned the new world No. 1.

Kvitova has had very little time to ponder on what transpired in Melbourne as she saved four championship points and force a deciding third set. “I didn’t really have time to think too much,” she said. “I was really in a circle. I really had to do a lot of things. Of course, the kind of the pain from the whole thing is gone. I’m taking it all in a positive way.”

But she has all reason to be proud of what she’s achieved, especially after her return from that knife attack. Kvitova suffered severe wounds to her playing left hand as she grappled with the intruder in her home. But she returned to professional tennis in May 2017, culminating 18 months later with her first Grand Slam final — the 2019 Australian Open — since winning Wimbledon in 2014.

“I think it was the mentality that I wasn’t really scared while going for the aggressive game plan, for the winners and playing kind of free,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m little bit more scared, I’m missing really bad. And in the head there are a lot of thoughts going on afterwards. But when I think now, probably the mental side was the strongest one there [in Melbourne].

“I do see life a little differently, tennis as well. I know how close you are to something that you can really lose. It was just about a few moments. I do look little bit differently on everything, I think. I’m not really stressing about the small things. I’m really enjoying the life and the time right now.”