Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova’s comeback was cut short on Wednesday when she was dumped out of the French Open in a second round straight-sets defeat to doubles world number one Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
The 15th seed, returning this week from a five-month break after she was stabbed in her playing hand by a burglar in December, littered the court with 25 unforced errors as she lost 7-6 7-6.
But Kvitova declared her comeback mission a success despite visibly lacking match practice as Mattek-Sands chased her across the court, switching between baseline and net play.
“I was surprised how I played even though I lost,” she told reporters. “I feel good. I did not have as much time to prepare as I wanted. But I feel good and happy that I am back.”
“In the coming weeks it will be business as usual, focusing on the tennis and improving my game. I did not have any expectations here. I came here for my comeback. The mission is completed and I am happy.”
She also received support from fellow players, with Australian Sam Stosur calling her comeback “remarkable.”
“I bumped into her…, gave her a big hug and said, ‘I’m really pleased you’re back’,” Stosur said. “I think it’s incredible she’s recovered this quickly and was able to play here. I think that’s remarkable.”
Mattek-Sands, the 32-year-old American who was the 2015 doubles winner in Paris, refused to buckle when Kvitova went 4-2 ahead in the first set.
She whipped in a series of ferocious forehand winners while also frustrating the Czech, constantly forcing her to the net with her dropshots to win the first set with a tiebreak.
Kvitova struggled with her returns despite the American getting less than half of her first serves in, rallying back from 3-1 down to force another tiebreak.
Mattek-Sands, however, kept her cool, despite Kvitova’s minibreak and watched as the Czech conceded defeat with her ninth double fault, leaving her to plan her return to Wimbledon.
“Coming to Roland Garros was one of the things to prepare for Wimbledon,” Kvitova said. “It’s a great tournament for me, I have the best memories I can have.”
“I am glad it was not taken away from me to be there one more time. I will enjoy it more than previous years.”
Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Johanna Konta has been eliminated from the French Open at the first-round stage for the third year in succession, despite taking a commanding early lead over Hsieh Su-Wei on day three at Roland Garros.
Seventh seed Konta breezed through the first set on Philippe Chatrier Court, winning it 6-1 in a time of just 23 minutes. However, the versatile world number 109 fought back to take the second after recovering from a 2-0 deficit to reel off seven straight points in a tiebreak.
The duo exchanged breaks in the third before a second consecutive loss of serve from Konta handed Hsieh an another advantage that she would not relinquish as her opponent failed to convert four more break opportunities in a tense final game.—AFP