Petra Kvitova press conference
Petra Kvitova press conference (SF)
Two Venus Rosewater Dish replicas hold pride of place on Petra Kvitova’s mantelpiece as a dual Wimbledon champion.
But a Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup replica after Saturday night’s Australian Open 2019 women’s final would be even sweeter, given the Czech’s “second career”.
It is the 28-year-old’s back-story that makes it so.
Two years ago, Kvitova’s name was absent from the Australian Open entry list.
It had been only a matter of weeks since a knife attack in an attempted burglary at home. The lacerations left tendons, five fingers and two nerves damaged on her left playing hand and she was given a 10 per cent chance of even competing professionally again.
Yet to drop a set at AO2019, the No.7 seed is back to her brilliant best.
On Thursday, she booked her third grand slam final – her first since her 2014 Wimbledon triumph – with a 7-6(2) 6-0 victory over American Danielle Collins.
“I have been in the final of the grand slam, but this is a little bit different,” Kvitova said on the eve of the title match. “I'm not playing on the grass, but I think it's just probably a little bit more special because it's after everything I have been through.
“So I think it's just different, but I don't think it's, like, more nervous.”
The Czech made a return to the top five for the first time in almost three years last August and she finished the season with five titles to her name. But her grand slam results did not stack up to her blitz in tour events.
She did not pass the third round at any of the majors and two of the lowest points in her comeback from her life-threatening ordeal came with a first-round capitulation at Wimbledon to Aliaksandra Sasnovich and losing 10-8 in the third set to good friend Andrea Petkovic in the opening round at Melbourne Park 12 months ago.
“I think was one of them just last year when I lost to Petkovic in my first round here, which I felt really terrible,” Kvitova said. “Of course losing in Wimbledon was hurting a lot, as well, at the time.
“I think those two losses were really tough for me … The feeling how I felt wasn't really nice. Sometimes I'm probably too stressed and it's not really great.”
Prior to 2019, it had been seven years since Kvitova had passed the third round at the Australian Open.
Since her Wimbledon 2014 triumph, she had reached just two US Open quarterfinals in 16 majors.
She now stands on the cusp of an unexpected third grand slam trophy and will claim the world No.1 ranking for the first time should she do so, not that the ranking holds much weight in her motivation.
“From my side, doesn't really affect me at all,” she said. “I'm here to play in the final of the major, and that's how I have my mindset.
“If that happens, it happens. It will just be a very nice bonus, but I'm really thinking about the title only.”