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Petra Kvitova: I will never forget the knife attack

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(Petra Kvitova – photo via zimbio.com)

A year after the career threatening knife attack, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has revealed it has caused serious nerve damage to her left hand as she can’t feel two of her fingers in her playing hand.

 

Speaking to the Guardian, the former World No. 2 gave chilling details of her physical and mental stress and the fear that gripped her after the attack.

 “It will probably take more than a year to get full movement back, I’m not sure,” Kvitova said. “For tennis and for life, it’s good. I’ve done everything that I could but there is still some space to improve it. I hope that with more time I will be even stronger. I am happy that [throughout the recovery] I was always looking forward to the better tomorrows.”

The Czech superstar added: “If I wasn’t playing tennis I don’t think I could be as positive as I am now – but it’s not pleasant to see those flashbacks. It is a time that I try to forget but I know I will never really forget what happened. This experience has shown me how hard I can work if I need to and just how much of a fighter I am on and off the court.”

The southpaw made an emotional comeback to the women’s tour at the French Open, where she reached the second round, exceeding the expectations of her surgeon and her critics who believed that her career was all but over.

“I did hear the rumors that I would never ever play again but I thought: ‘I will show them.’

“I was like: ‘Why are they saying this?’ It was very painful for me, it felt like they didn’t believe me. Of course, at that time, I probably didn’t know how bad it was because nobody told me – and I am happy for that now.”

“My doctor [Radek Kebrle] told me that many other experts thought that I would never ever play. He didn’t want to tell me – and that was a good decision for my mental state of mind.

“The week after surgery I asked my doctor: ‘Do you think I could play in Wimbledon this year?’ He didn’t answer for a while and then he said: ‘We are going to work on it and blah, blah, blah.’ I understood then that it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Any hopes of a quick return to action soon evaporated when Petra realized that the familiar feeling of holding a racket in her hand had disappeared.

“I had a lot of conversations with my coach [about making adjustments to my racket]. I told him that I didn’t want to change anything because if I was to change some small details I thought it would change everything. I told him: ‘I’m going to try like this, please give me time and we will see how it works out.’

“That’s how he wanted it to be as well. I am glad that we didn’t make any adjustments to my racket. Everything is the same as before … and it’s all good,” Kvitova said.

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Tommy Paul reaches the second round at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow

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Tommy Paul reached the second round at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow with a 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 win over Mikael Ymer after 1 hour and 57 minutes. 

 

Paul broke Ymer’s serve four times and won 44% of his return points. The US player set up a second round match against two-time Kremlin Cup champion Marin Cilic, who beat Damir Dzumhur. 

The world number 54 beat Andrey Rublev in Indian Wells en route to reaching the fourth round in a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. 

Ilya Marchenko saved two break points in his 6-4 6-3 win over Alexander Bublik. Marchenko will face John Millman. 

Adrian Mannarino came back from one set down to beat Roman Safiulin 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 after 2 hours and 32 minutes. Rublev won his only previous head-to-head match against Mannarino in the Kremlin Cup final in 2019. 

Egor Gerasimov egded past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3 1-6 6-4. 

Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov beat an all-Australian team formed by Luke Saville and John Patrick Smith 6-2 7-5 to advance to the quarter finals in the doubles tournament. 

Last week Rublev reached the Indian Wells doubles final with another partner Aslan Karatsev. Khachanov and Rublev have reached two Masters 1000 finals in Miami 2018 and Paris Bercy in 2019. 

“I have played with Karen so many times and we have got used to each other. We have known each other since we were kids. We know each other perfectly. With Aslan, it’s different. In my opinion, I think Aslan plays doubles the best of all of us, the way he thinks, the way he returns, plays with the volleys. He knows more how to play more like a doubles player compared to all of us. I think he is a great player who can play really good in doubles”, said Rublev.

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Simona Halep cruises through to the second round with a straight-set win over Anastasia Potapova in Moscow

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Simona Halep cruised through to the second round at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow with a 6-1 6-4 win over Anastasia Potapova after 90 minutes. 

 

Halep has extended her winning record against Potapova after beating her Russian rival in their only previous head-to-head match at the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne last winter. The Romanian star is making her first appearance since she won the title in 2013.

Four of the first six six games went to deuce. Halep went up an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Potapova broke straight back, but Halep earned two breaks at deuce to take a 5-1 lead before serving out the set at love. 

Four of the first six games of the second set went against serve. Halep converted the first of her two break points to take a 5-4 lead. As Halep was serving for the match at 5-4, Potapova earned three break points.

Halep saved them, before converting her second match point to secure her spot in the second round, where she will face world number 32 Veronika Kudemertova. Halep beat Kudemertova 6-1 6-3 in the third round at this year’s Australian Open. Kudemertova came back from one set down to beat Oksana Selekmetheva 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 after 2 hous and 20 minutes. 

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Andy Murray battles past Frances Tiafoe in a marathon match in Antwerp

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Andy Murray battled past Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) in a marathon match after 3 hours and 45 minutes to advance to the second rund at the European Open in Antwerp. 

 

Murray came back from a set down in the first set before prevailing in the tie-break. 

Tiafoe opened up a 3-1 lead with an early break in the third game and a hold. Murray reduced the deficit to 2-3 before Tiafoe needed a medical time-out to treat a back problem. Murray broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Both players traded breaks in the next two games. Tiafoe wasted a set point. Murray closed out the tie-break with two mini-breaks followed by two consecutive aces.

Both players fended off break points to stay on serve in the second set. Murray saved a set point to hold and forced the second set to to another tie-break. Murray hit a forehand down the centre of the court to open up a 3-1 lead. Tiafoe pulled back on serve after a return into the net from Murray. Tiafoe earned two mini-breaks to take a 4-3 lead. The US player hit a forehand down the line to earn a set point, but Murray saved it to draw level to 6-6. Tiafoe converted his sixth set point with a forehand half-volley to win the 81-minute second set forcing the match to the third set. 

Tiafoe earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Murray broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Murray saved two break points to hold for 4-3. Tiafoe held serve to draw level to 5-5 forcing the decider to a third tie-break. Both players earned two mini-breaks in the tie-break before Murray gained a two-point lead, but Tiafoe drew level to 5-5. Murray saved two match points before sealing the win with a backhand dropshot, which Tiafoe could return into the net. 

Murray avenged a defeat against Tiafoe, who beat the Scotsman in the second round at Winston Salem last August. 

Murray will face Diego Schwartzman on Thursday. 

“I think it’s the longest three-set match I have played by quite a distance. I am tired right now, obviously it was an unbelievable battle. Nowadays, obviously my body is old now. I have played a lot of matches on the Tour. I don’t mind playing long matches, but that was taking it to another level. Brilliant match. Amazing atmosphere. Thanks to everyone who came and supported. It’s just so nice. To be back and playing in front of crowd again”, said Murray.  

Murray and Tiafoe played the longest best-of-three set match of 2021, improving the previous record set by Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who played for 3 hours and 38 minutes in the Barcelona final. 

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