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Kvitova powers past Larsson

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Originally published on 03/07/17 00:00

Dr Radek Kebrle sat with his wife in the Czech’s box on Centre Court as Kvitova accelerated past Johanna Larsson, producing some vintage tennis in the second set to win 6-3 6-4, and send out fresh warning signals to the rest of the ladies’ singles draw that she is in the hunt for the Venus Rosewater dish once more.

“It was a disaster that changed into a miracle,” Dr Kebrle said afterwards, a reminder of just how far Kvitova has come from injuries – and the psychological trauma – that threatened to end her career. The Aegon Classic champion only returned to action little more than a month ago at the French Open, yet already features in most pundits’ shortlists to emerge victorious a week on Saturday.

For Kvitova, though, her focus was all on this – her first match back at Wimbledon, the moment she pictured when she picked up a racket for the first time after that career-saving surgery.

“It was very special, I have to say,” Kvitova said of her return to Centre Court. “When we came on the court – I know, British crowd – but today I feel a little bit different. They screamed a little bit more than they normally do. It was very special for me to feel the energy from the crowd again. It was through the match, all the time.

"So it was beautiful to be back on the court playing my game, on the beautiful Centre Court, of course. I couldn't wish more.”

The recovery continues, however. Kvitova said she spends around 90 minutes after each match tending to the scars in her left palm – stretching, icing, applying cream and massaging them to prevent the ligaments from contracting. To date, she cannot fully clench her left hand into a fist, which has made her trademark ‘Pojd!’ celebration difficult.

“I still couldn't do by my left, but that's okay,” she said. “I'm using it sometimes, but then I realise every time that I couldn't do it. It's weird. But, I mean, I can get used to this.”

So can we. Welcome back to Wimbledon, Petra.

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