Sport Tennis Australian Open The knife attack that almost ended the career of Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova
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The knife attack that almost ended the career of Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova

Kvitova has been hailed as 'an amazing human being' by her rivals. Photo: Getty
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A little more than two years ago, Petra Kvitova was reconsidering her career after her racquet hand was slashed by a knife-wielding attacker during a home invasion. Now she’s one win away from the sweetest of victories. 

The two-time Wimbledon champion wiped away tears on Thursday night after her straight-sets win over Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in the Australian open quarter-finals.

“I didn’t really imagine to be back on this great stadium and play with the best and it’s great,” Kvitova said in her on-court interview with Channel Nine’s Jim Courier. 

Kvitova, who will now play Japan’s Naomi Osaka for the women’s Australian Open title on Saturday, last won a grand slam at Wimbledon in 2014. In 2011 she reached her career high ranking of No.2 on the women’s singles ladder.

Ktivova’s road to comeback 

It was the week before Christmas in 2016 when Kvitova was set upon by a knife-wielding intruder who attacked her inside her apartment in the Czech Republic city of Prostejov.

The man, who presented himself as a boiler inspector, held a knife to her throat, and as a struggle took place in her bathroom, she sustained severe hand injuries while trying to defend herself.

Petra Kvitova speaks to the media after leaving hospital in 2016. Photo: AAP

Kvitova underwent a lengthy operation to repair the tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves. She was “shaken, but fortunate to be alive”. 

The physical damage to her dominant hitting hand and the trauma she experienced raised fears she would never play tennis again, but she was lucky to defy all odds and made a remarkable return to the court.

The attack reminded many tennis fans of another vicious attack in 1993, when then-world No.1 Monica Seles was stabbed courtside during a break at a tournament in Germany.

The perpetrator was a man who admitted having an obsession with her rival Steffi Graf.

The attack forced Seles out of tennis for two years. 

Forgetting the past

For Kvitova, knowing she’s on the verge of making her first major final in five years is bittersweet.

“Sometimes I’m not really recognising anything from the past,” Kvitova told a media conference at Melbourne Park.

“But when Jim asked that, it wasn’t really easy for me to kind of see myself being in a semi-final after everything.

Petra Kvitova holds the Venus Rosewater Dish at Wimbledon in 2014. Photo: Getty

“I always wanted to come back and play on the highest level I can, compete with the best, play the Grand Slams, actually be very deep in the Grand Slam, which is happening.”

Barty, also described Kvitova as an “amazing human being”, and would not be surprised to see her win the Australian Open.

“I think from all of the girls in the locker room, it’s amazing just to see her back out here,” Barty said.

“It wasn’t the same when she wasn’t here.”

The Australian Open women’s singles final begins at 7.30pm Saturday.

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