Tennis: Players still horrified at attack on Kvitova

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, reacts after winning a point against Daria Gavrilova of Australia. Photo / AP
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, reacts after winning a point against Daria Gavrilova of Australia. Photo / AP

Petra Kvitova remains on the minds of players on the WTA tour, many of whom are still in disbelief about the dual Wimbledon winner's horrific knife attack last month.

Kvitova will be a high-profile absentee from next week's Australian Open. The world No 11's playing hand was wounded in December, when she fought off an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic.

Kvitova, who is recovering from damage to the tendons in her left hand and injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, has spoken publicly of her desire to return to the professional tennis circuit.

Compatriot Barbora Strycova is among countless players who are desperate to see it happen this year.

"I haven't seen her but I am chatting with her now and then," Strycova said at the Sydney International, a tournament Kvitova won in 2015 and was set to play again this year.

"She was very unlucky but she's strong and she will be back."

Kvitova underwent nearly four hours of surgery following the home invasion.

"It [the attacker] was the guy saying 'the gas is going out', I would also have let him in," Strycova said.

"I mean, what can you do? We are not home often, so we don't know so much about these things."

Eugenie Bouchard, speaking after her quarter-final win in Sydney over world No 27 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, said it was frightening to hear what happened to Kvitova.

"I hope she can recover really quickly," Bouchard said of the woman who crushed her in the 2014 Wimbledon final. "All of us are sending her positive vibes."

Bouchard added it was a reality check regarding security.

"My team and I take precautions every week about little things like that," she said. "It's not a joke, you know. It's your life.

"I have a personal security guard in Montreal and sometimes he travels with me, as well, for weeks where I feel it's important or depending on the area I go to. We always depend on security at the event. We usually always ask for more."

Monica Seles was at the height of her success in 1993 when she was stabbed in the back during a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg. A man reached over a courtside railing and stabbed her, leaving an inch-deep slit between her shoulder blades. Seles returned to the game 27 months later and reached the 1995 US Open final.

"Tennis is a sport where fans can get very, very close to the players compared to any other sport in the world," Bouchard said. "It's almost shocking how close fans can get."

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