Garbine Muguruza has described Petra Kvitova’s stunning return to the top-10 just over a year after she was attacked and had surgery on her injured hand as “incredible” the Spanish Wimbledon champion told reporters in Dubai on Tuesday.
Kvitova, who was stabbed in her left playing hand in December 2016 and sustained damage in all five fingers, is currently on a 13-match winning streak that included back-to-back title runs in St. Petersburg and Doha and six victories against top-10 opponents.
The Czech’s latest victim was Muguruza, in the Doha final last Sunday.
“I heard the news. I saw the picture of the hand. I never talked to her [Kvitova] about it. Obviously I'm like not even close to, you know, personal [with her]. But I think it's incredible,” said Muguruza, who opens her Dubai campaign against Catherine “CiCi Bellis” in round two in Dubai on Wednesday.
“I heard she doesn't really feel certain parts of the hand. I'm like, I don't even understand how can you play that good.
Johanna Konta enjoyed a winning start on her Dubai debut, overcoming a stiff first-set challenge from Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova before advancing to the second round in straight sets on Monday night.
Konta, seeded No. 7 in Dubai, received a wildcard to enter the tournament. She was meant to make her first appearance in the Emirates last year but pulled out at the last minute with a foot injury.
The British No. 1 went down an early break to trail Pavlyuchenkova 2-4 but rallied back to win three games on the trot and lead 5-4.
That ninth game lasted 14 minutes and the pair pushed each other to a tiebreak before Konta pulled ahead.
The 26-year-old Konta, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year, broke for a 2-0 gap in the second set before Pavlyuchenova took a lengthy medical timeout for a back issue.
It didn’t seem to help the Russian’s cause as Konta broke again for a 5-1 advantage and she sealed a 7-6 (2), 6-2 victory in one hour and 43 minutes to set up a second round against Daria Kasatkina.
“It was definitely going to be tricky. But I knew going into the match that it was going to be. She’s the kind of player that can play very hot and cold. When she’s on, she’s very on. I knew going into the match, actually the first set, she was very tricky to play,” said Konta.
“The conditions are quite fast as well, so it doesn’t lend itself to necessarily a little rhythm. I really just tried to have good tolerance out there.
“I was very clear of what I was trying to do out there, trying to have good acceptance that sometimes I wasn’t going to be able to do it, otherwise just try to fight, get as many balls back to ask her those questions, and when I had my opportunities to try to play the way I wanted to play.”
For more than a decade, Agnieszka Radwanska has tortured many opponents with her variety, impeccable shot selection, exquisite placement and cunning slices.
That one-of-a-kind game – as her coach Tomasz Wiktorowski would describe it – took her to No. 2 in the world, got her into a Wimbledon final, and saw her achieve great success on tour.
But as the 28-year-old Pole attempts to climb back up the rankings following a disappointing 2017 ruined by injuries, Radwanska is forced to face a younger generation of opponents, who hit harder, run faster, and share some of her magical qualities.
That was the case on Monday when 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina defeated Radwanska 7-5, 6-4 in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
It was Kasatkina’s first match win in Dubai, on her second visit to the tournament while Radwanska is a veteran who won the event in 2012.