Tennis has had a few sad cases of assault and traumatic attacks in the past. Each one has left an indelible mark on the game – in the hearts of all lovers of the sport. Sometimes we forget, as we watch these phenomenal athletes compete, that they face the same life dangers we all do. Life is a streak of light. Here one minute and gone the next. The players we hold dear in our hearts and even those we don’t, can be put in terrible danger in the blink of an eye. Many fellow tennis fans still recall the Monica Seles stabbing incident – probably the most notorious of all incidents. Like Seles, Petra Kvitova was attacked by a knife wielding assailant on the 20th of December, 2016. Unlike Seles, this wasn’t a public incident. In some ways, it was far more terrible. This attack happened within the destroyed sanctity of Petra Kvitova’s home. For those who have dealt with the horrors of a home break in, you know the feeling lingers like a terrible shadow long after the incident.
Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, suffered lacerations to the nerves and tendons of her left hand during the attack. If you didn’t already know, Kvitova is left handed. This was as career threatening as career threatening gets. That Kvitova was able to fight her way back to a full recovery, and have the mental strength to focus on what needed to be done while knowing the attacker was still at large, is a testament to her heart and will power. The comeback has not been easy on her. Yet Kvitova has stuck to the work, knowing that the champion in her will one day resurface.
Garbine Muguruza, the Spaniard who has recently transformed herself into a seemingly unstoppable force, was Kvitova’s opponent in the fourth round of the U.S Open. Muguruza has made a name for herself with her ruthless balance of offense and defense which practically dissolves her opponents’ games. She has effectively transformed many solid players into error making machines while blasting winner after winner past them. Against Kvitova however, she was up against a resurgent champion famous for her own lethal brand of firepower. Once Kvitova found her range after going 4 – 1 down in the first set, her game began firing on all cylinders. An ominous feeling gripped the court as Kvitova rediscovered a familiar Midas touch, every golden shot pulling her closer and closer to certain victory. Her joyous smile and emotional on court interview serve to underscore just how much this win means to her.
Watching this match, I couldn’t help but wonder how we could have overlooked such a dangerous player. Kvitova has always blown hot or cold. At her best, I do think her game can soar past even Serena’s. At her worst, she can be more horrific than the Eugenie Bouchard of this season. There is almost never a middle ground. That’s what makes her mysterious and quite frankly, why you can’t ever rule her out. With Petra, it’s always one match at a time.
On to the next match.