In an Open where so many women players are in comeback mode, nothing is as harrowing or heartwarming as Petra Kvitova’s return to tennis this spring.
And maybe nothing is as inspirational as her run at the U.S. Open.
Kvitova made it through to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza on Ashe Stadium Sunday night.
In December of last year Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion, was attacked at her home in the Czech Republic by a knife-wielding robber. She suffered deep cuts in the four fingers of her left hand, her playing hand, that required nearly four hours of surgery to repair. She came back during the late spring grass court season and won a tournament, but she’s struggled for the most part through the hard court season.
But now she’s in the quarters here, and hasn’t dropped a set. “I don’t think I can find the right words. It was a difficult time,” said Kvitova. “I didn’t know how the journey would turn out.”
Muguruza was having a strong season, adding a Wimbledon championship as her second Grand Slam title after winning the French Open last year. By advancing to the third round she had gotten as far as she ever had at the Open and was in position to take over the No. 1 ranking from Karolina Pliskova. Either Muguruza, Pliskova or Elina Svitolina will emerge from the Open as the No. 1. Even with the loss, Muguruza could be No. 1 if the other players lose before the final.
For Kvitova, just getting back into the game at all was an accomplishment, and she’s the No. 13 seed here. She seemed to draw a lot of fan support.
Her team in the players’ box have been wearing T-shirts which have printed on the front “Courage, Belief and PJD with a heart between the P and the J. In Czech it means “C’mon.”
Here she comes.