2017 Season Review: Petra Kvitova successfully returns from horrifying incident

In one of WTA's best stories in 2017, Petra Kvitova returned onto a tennis court after enduring through an unfortunate knife attack back in December 2016. She went on to claim a WTA title and also two top-10 victories.

2017 Season Review: Petra Kvitova successfully returns from horrifying incident
Petra Kvitova was understandably emotional after grabbing the win on her comeback | Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images Europe

After the freak and gruesome accident which Petra Kvitova had to, unfortunately, experience back in December 2016, doctors were unoptimistic of her chances to even return to a tennis court once again. However, things took a drastic turn for the better as her manager soon confirmed that she would be out of the game for at least six months, which was a good news as compared to earlier reports. Returning to action at the French Open, Kvitova went on to have a decent year despite still being unable to clinch her left fist, ending the year as the world number 29.

Win-loss record: Kvitova experiences occasional struggles

Kvitova owns a fair 18-10 (.643) win-loss record throughout 2017. Disappointingly, eight of her defeats have come against players of a lower ranking, most notably to Madison Brengle at Wimbledon where she was a huge favorite to claim her third Major trophy.

Petra Kvitova walks onto the court for the first match of her comeback at the French Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Petra Kvitova walks onto the court for the first match of her comeback at the French Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Her sole title this year came at the Aegon Classic, where she unexpectedly stormed to triumph in a quality-field while claiming an excellent win over the in-form Kristina Mladenovic in the process. Kvitova also triumphed twice against the top-10 players, outclassing both Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.

High Points of the season: Return to tennis a bonus for the Czech

Kvitova made an unexpected announcement on her Instagram back in April, mentioning that she would be in the entry list of Roland Garros because she wanted to give herself “every last opportunity to be able to compete”, as per mentioned in a post on Instagram. She participated in a last-minute press conference at the tournament site and confirmed her attendance, where she won her first match in over seven months, triumphing over Julia Boserup in straight sets.

The six-month lay-off did not take away Kvitova's fight on court | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
The six-month lay-off did not take away Kvitova's fight on court | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

In just the second tournament of her comeback, Kvitova strolled to claim the title in Birmingham. Consecutive comfortable victories came against fellow countrywoman Tereza Smitkova and local favourite Naomi Broady before pulling off an upset over the in-form Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets. Kvitova then benefitted from Lucie Safarova’s retirement in the semifinals before ousting youngster Ashleigh Barty to claim her first WTA title since the WTA Elite Trophy, which was coincidentally her last tournament of 2016.

Kvitova defied the odds and reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in two years. Despite being handed a tricky and tough draw at the US Open, the Czech started her campaign with a win against veteran Jelena Jankovic in a symmetrical 7-5, 7-5 scoreline. She followed it up with straightforward and excellent victories over Frenchwomen Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia.

Petra Kvitova posing alongside her Birmingham trophy | Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe
Petra Kvitova posing alongside her Birmingham trophy | Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe

In what could be Kvitova’s most impressive performance of the year, she defeated the new world number one Garbine Muguruza 7-6, 6-3, saving 75 percent of break points along the way. Her surprise run came to a halt in the hands of the legendary Venus Williams, putting up a tough fight under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Having an outstanding Asian Swing in the previous year, Kvitova looked to replicate her success this year as well. Looking in peak form at the China Open, the Czech defeated Kristyna Pliskova in the opening round before earning her second top-10 victory of the year against eventual WTA Finals champion Caroline Wozniacki, with her run ultimately ending in the semifinals as Caroline Garcia proved to be too strong.

Petra Kvitova was a huge favorite in Wimbledon, but was kicked out by Madison Brengle | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Petra Kvitova was a huge favorite in Wimbledon, but was kicked out by Madison Brengle | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Low Points of the season: Three opening-round exits

Arguably, Kvitova’s most disappointing loss of the year occurred at the Wimbledon Championships. Going into the tournament, she was a huge favorite to clinch the title considering she triumphed in Birmingham and received a favorable draw. However, she surprisingly crashed out in the second round to the unheralded Madison Brengle, falling to the American in a match which saw her struggle with the heat.

Kvitova’s lead-up to the US Open was extremely poor in her own personal standards, having reached just one quarterfinal despite participating in four consecutive tournaments. It started with a run to the last four at the Bank of the West Classic, where she was thrashed by Catherine Bellis 2-6, 0-6 in just over an hour. Early exits in Cincinnati and Toronto followed, and she lost to the same opponent on both occasions — Sloane Stephens. Another one-sided loss ensued as Kvitova failed to find the rhythm in her game, with Zhang Shuai triumphing 6-2, 6-1 in their New Haven meeting.

Petra Kvitova earns the first top-10 win of her comeback, defeating Muguruza in a late-night thriller | Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America
Petra Kvitova earns the first top-10 win of her comeback, defeating Muguruza in a late-night thriller | Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America

The Czech had a disappointing end to 2017, having experienced two first-round exits. She fell in a thrilling three-setter against Peng Shuai in an opening hurdle which she wasn’t to get past at the Wuhan Open, losing with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-7 scoreline. Tipped to claim the title at the Tianjin Open, Kvitova was on the receiving end of a huge upset, being beaten by the local favorite Zhu Lin 4-6, 7-5, 4-6 after more than two hours of play. That was the Czech’s last match of the year before her off-season.

Season Grade: B

Although Kvitova’s season was marred by inconsistency, she had several impressive runs while also managing to keep her spot inside the top-30 despite missing the first half of the year. Her achievements this year were more extraordinary when you consider the fact that the Czech was thought to have little chances to continue her career.

An inspiration, Petra Kvitova | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac
An inspiration, Petra Kvitova | Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac