Dubai: Three-time Grand Slam champion Lucie Hradecka was left beaming for at least two reasons. One was her resolve to stay focused for a 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Great Britain’s Eden Silva, and the other was that she is able to haul her career back on track.
The 33-year-old Hradecka of the Czech Republic was down and out when a serious injury on her left knee left her with a tough decision while playing at the Wuhan Open in China in November 2017.
A visit to the doctors showed that her left knee needed to be totally replaced.
Now, after more than 15 months, Hradecka — who is here as an alternate — is not only pursuing her tennis career but winning once again. “At most times, the most important thing is to stay healthy. I can vouch through my personal experience and struggles that health is truly wealth,” Hradecka told Gulf News after easing through to the second round of the qualifiers at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday.
“Today I have won and I feel no pain at all in my knee. Tomorrow is another day and we shall see how far we can advance in this competition,” she added.
Now in her 15th year on the WTA, Hradecka has won 19 doubles titles that includes three Grand Slams — the 2011 French Open and 2013 US Open — on both occasions with fellow Czech Andrea Hlavackova, while the third was a mixed doubles at the 2013 French Open with Frantisek Cermak.
Her best singles ranking was No. 41 in June 2011, and now Hradecka can see herself clawing her way back. “The best thing today besides the win is that I am totally pain-free. Of course, it’s always at the back of my mind, but the good thing is that I am feeling very comfortable and confident on court,” she said.
“2018 was definitely one of the toughest years of my career and my life. But this week I’ve got to focus and carry forward this confidence and see how far I can advance here,” she smiled.
Her next opponent in the qualifying is Slovakian Polona Hercog, who battled over three sets before winning 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 win against wild card Julia Elbaba of the US.
Action in the qualifying rounds will continue at the Dubai Tennis Stadium from 10.30am on Saturday. The opening matches of the main round will get under way from Sunday.
 Bernanda Pera (USA) bt Nikita Uberoi (USA) 6-1, 6-0;  P. Hercog (SLO) bt Julia Elbaba (USA);  Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Sabine Lisicki (GER) 6-1, 6-2; Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) bt Asia Muhammad (USA) 6-3, 6-3; Lucie Hradecka (CZE) bt Eden Silva (GBR) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1;  Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) bt Chloe Paquet (FRA) 7-6 (3), 6-3;  Lina Zhu (CHN) bt Irina Bara (ROU) 5-7, 6-0, 7-5;  Stefanie Voegele (SUI) bt Shilin Xu (CHN) 6-1, 6-0; Jennifer Brady bt Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 6-2, 7-5;  Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) bt Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-4, 6-2;  Ivana Jorovic (SRB) bt Valeriya Strakhova (UKR) 6-0, 6-0; Magdalena Frech (POL) bt Darija Jurak (CRO) 6-3, 6-1.