- The Aegon Classic was the stage for Petra Kvitova’s return to the grass courts
- Czech star brushed Tereza Smitkova aside, winning 6-2, 6-3 in Birmingham
- It is six months to the day since she was attacked by a burglar in her own home
If Petra Kvitova’s first match on grass since making a miraculous return from stab wounds is anything to go by, the two-time Wimbledon champion will, remarkably, be a contender at SW19 again.
Six months ago to the day since suffering serious injury to the nerves of her left hand when attacked by a burglar at her home, Kvitova summarily dispatched Tereza Smitkova at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham in just her third match back.
Kvitova’s 6-2, 6-3 victory over her Czech compatriot might have been expected due to the disparity in rankings but it was nevertheless an impressive display given the career-threatening circumstances she has overcome.
Petra Kvitova uses the left hand damaged in the knife attack during her victory on Tuesday
The 27-year-old sealed the match with an 106mph ace out wide, having found a consistent weapon in her cross-court forehand from that previously damaged left hand.
Her retrievals were sharp and though Smitkova, ranked 167, refused to wilt and saved four match points, the quality gap was clear.
Given Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are both out of Wimbledon and the field seems more open than ever, Kvitova will emerge as a genuine contender to add to her titles from 2011 and 2014 if this form continues.
She is currently ranked 16th in the world, her position not slipping too far due to a relatively quick comeback, so she should not get an unduly harsh draw.
Great Britain’s Naomi Broady is up next for Kvitova in round two of the Aegon Classic
After an emotionally-charged victory on her surprise return at Roland Garros last month, this was just a third match in half a year and there were initial signs of rustiness with a number of unforced errors.
Some of the delicate touches requiring most from hand tendons were awry but Kvitova settled, punching some deep groundstrokes, and forged ahead when Smitkova threw in a surprise double fault in a tight game midway through the first set.
Kvitova got another break to seal the set, and then broke again to lead 3-1 in the second before closing out the match. Great Britain’s Naomi Broady is up next in round two.