Kvitova back in a happy place

Kvitova back in a happy place

PARIS • An emotional Petra Kvitova yesterday hailed her first appearance in the French Open quarter-finals since 2012 as a welcome reminder of the two-time Wimbledon champion’s ability on all surfaces.

The Czech seventh seed cruised into the last eight at Roland Garros for just the second time in her career with a 6-2, 6-4 win over China’s Zhang Shuai.

Her superior firepower proved decisive as she blasted 23 winners to Zhang’s nine. She dominated from the baseline and was 4-0 up in 15 minutes, wrapping up the match 70 minutes later.

“After eight years to be in the quarter-final again, it’s great. I’m really happy for that, that I’m still able to play on all surfaces,” she said after her fourth successive straight-sets victory.

Her best run in Paris came when she lost to eventual champion Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals in 2012. “I think I wasn’t really the player who ever succeeded on clay. At that time was such a great thing for me to be in the semi-finals… I think it’s been a miracle for me to make the semi-final here in Roland Garros,” added the 30-year-old, who missed last year’s tournament due to an arm injury. “I got a bit emotional last two points of my match.”

Court Philippe Chatrier holds special memories for Kvitova as the site of her comeback in 2017 – six months after a knife attack that almost ended her career. She suffered serious injuries to her left playing hand when she fought off a knife-wielding burglar at her home in Prostejov in December 2016.

“Happy memories, when I made my comeback here 2017, when I step on the Philippe Chatrier, I couldn’t really imagine me to be in the quarter-final of this Slam,” said Kvitova, who will climb back into the top 10 following her performance in Paris. “It’s been a long ride definitely.”

Kvitova, a runner-up to Naomi Osaka at last year’s Australian Open, has won the majority of her 27 titles on hard courts but is a capable clay performer as well. She has won five of her six finals on the surface, with three of her past five titles coming on clay including the most recent at Stuttgart last year.

She will next face world No. 66 Laura Siegemund, the oldest player left in the draw at 32. The German beat Spain’s Paula Badosa 7-5, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final after ordering a plate of food to be delivered to her on court.

She ate while Badosa, who was affected by an apparent back injury, was taking a medical time out.

“I was trying to get some carbs in,” she said, having struggled to eat before her match. “Probably looks weird having a fork and eating like that, but better than low sugar anyway.”

WHAT A JOURNEY

Happy memories, when I made my comeback here 2017, when I step on the Philippe Chatrier, I couldn’t really imagine me to be in the quarter-final of this Slam. It’s been a long ride definitely.

PETRA KVITOVA , Czech tennis player on returning to the court where she made her comeback after a knife attack.

Energised by her food intake, she won 10 of the last 12 games.

Fans can feast on another upcoming quarter-final, with Stefanos Tsitsipas set to meet Andrey Rublev in a repeat of the recent Hamburg final which was won by the Russian.

Rublev also won titles in Qatar and Adelaide this season and only world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has won more matches and trophies this year.

He kept up his good form, beating Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).

Tsitsipas brushed aside Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 7-6 (11-9), 6-2. The Greek has now won 12 successive sets at the tournament.

“The tiebreak was where all the money went. I tried to take it point by point, I showed a lot of discipline,” said last year’s ATP Finals winner. “It was a very responsible win in the second set.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

FRENCH OPEN

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