PARIS (Reuters) - Victory was a bonus for Petra Kvitova as the Czech left-hander made an emotional return to the limelight at the French Open on Sunday, breezing into the second round in her first competitive match since a burglar stuck a knife through her playing hand.
“As I said last time, I had already won. This match is special to me. I won for the second time, if I can say,” she told reporters after become the first player to advance following a 6-3 6-2 win against American Julia Boserup.
”It wasn’t really about the game today. Yesterday I was thinking how everything would be, and I couldn’t really imagine how it would be.
“I thought maybe I’d cry when I’d step on the court, but I didn’t today. Normally I can control my emotions on the court and I‘m so I‘m happy that I kind of did it, as well, this time,” Kvitova added, although she admitted getting more emotional after the match.
The 27-year-old, who dropped her racket and hid some tears behind her hands after match point, had spent five months out of the game since undergoing emergency surgery in December when she was stabbed during a burglary.
The twice Wimbledon champion, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2012, looked poised and focused, treating the sparse Court Philippe Chatrier crowd to a few exquisite drop shots and lightning-quick forehands.
For a while, it almost felt like the attack had never happened.
Asked how her hand felt, she replied: ”I didn’t feel any differences, which is nice.
“After a little break when the rain came, I caught the racket and it was a little bit weird, but after one point everything was OK.”
Kvitova ended up wasting little time on court as she set up a second-round meeting with either Russian Evgeniya Rodina or American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
After an early blip when she double-faulted, she opened a 2-0 lead by breaking in the second game.
Mixing winners and unforced errors in almost equal measure, Kvitova had three break points to go 4-0 up but Boserup saw them off, although she could not fully overturn the advantage. The Czech 15th seed, who is benefiting from a protected ranking, took the opening set with a solid half volley.
She broke twice in the second, sealing victory when Boserup netted a forehand.
Kvitova dropped her racket and held her head in her hands, her eyes filling with tears while her support team, wearing T-shirts marked “Courage, Belief, Pojd” (Come on! in Czech), celebrated wildly.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Lovell and John Stonestreet