Kvi­tova re­turns from stab­bing to win opener

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DAVID WALDSTEIN

PARIS — If Pe­tra Kvi­tova had been just a wor­thy ad­ver­sary who lost a com­pet­i­tive match on Sun­day, she still would have walked off cen­tre court at Roland Gar­ros a win­ner for her brav­ery and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

In De­cem­ber, while fend­ing off a knifewield­ing home in­vader at her apart­ment in Proste­jov, Czech Re­pub­lic, six-foot-tall Kvi­tova grabbed the blade as it was poised at her neck, and dur­ing the en­su­ing strug­gle, she suf­fered se­vere in­juries to her left hand, the one she uses to serve and to hit pen­e­trat­ing ground­strokes.

She needed nearly four hours of in­tri­cate surgery to re­pair the hand and save her ca­reer. On Sun­day, Kvi­tova came back to the game more than a month ear­lier than ex­pected, and in just one hour 14 min­utes, she showed the ten­nis world that she would not be cowed, de­liv­er­ing a con­vinc­ing 6-3, 6-2 vic­tory over 85th-ranked Ju­lia Boserup of the United States in the first round of the French Open.

“This match was spe­cial to me,” said Kvi­tova, the No. 15 seed, who had de­clared that just en­ter­ing the French Open was a vic­tory. “I won for the sec­ond time, if I can say.”

The open­ing day was not so sweet for An­gelique Ker­ber of Ger­many, the No. 1 seed, who was ousted by un­seeded Eka­te­rina Makarova of Rus­sia, 6-2, 6-2. Ker­ber be­came the first top seed to lose in the first round at Roland Gar­ros in the Open era, which be­gan in 1968. Ser­ena Wil­liams lost in the sec­ond round as a No. 1 seed in 2014, as did Jus­tine Henin of Bel­gium in 2004.

Clay is Ker­ber’s worst sur­face, but this sea­son has been par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing. She went 5-4, in­clud­ing the Fed Cup, and failed to get past the third round in any of the tour­na­ments.

“I know in the last years I al­ways had up and downs,” Ker­ber, 29, said, “and right now, of course, I’m ac­tu­ally in the down feel­ing.”

On an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally warm day, No. 11 Venus Wil­liams ex­tended her Open era record by play­ing in her 20th tour­na­ment at Roland Gar­ros. She had a sur­pris­ingly dif­fi­cult time with China’s Qiang Wang in their firstround en­counter on Court Suzanne-Len­glen, but Wil­liams held on to win, 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Wil­liams, 36, ar­rived with­out her sis­ter Ser­ena, who is preg­nant. Venus Wil­liams said it would be dif­fi­cult for Ser­ena to watch the tour­na­ment be­cause, as a three-time French Open win­ner, she knows she could have done well here.

“But she’s just ex­cited about every­thing com­ing up in her life off the court and ex­cited about ma­ter­nity,” Venus Wil­liams said.

Wil­liams also took note of Kvi­tova’s emo­tional ac­com­plish­ment ear­lier in the day.

“You don’t imag­ine in life that you are go­ing to go through that when you wake up,” Wil­liams said. “I’m very happy she is hav­ing a win­ning tour­na­ment.”

CLIVE BRUN­SKILL, GETTY IMAGES

Pe­tra Kvi­tova of the Czech Re­pub­lic hits a fore­hand in her first-round match against Amer­i­can Ju­lia Boserup at the French Open on Sun­day. Kvi­tova won the match, 6-3, 6-2.

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