By Martyn Herman
EASTBOURNE, England (Reuters) – Double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has cautioned against making her one of the favorites to lift the title this year despite a stunning return from the hand injury that almost ended her career.
The Czech won the Birmingham grasscourt event on Sunday in only her second tournament since returning from the severe injuries to her left playing hand sustained in a knife attack by an intruder at her home last December.
She had hoped to continue her preparations at the Aegon International in Eastbourne this week, but pulled out of the tournament on Monday with an abdominal strain.
Providing she recovers, the 27-year-old will be high on most people’s lists of possible Wimbledon winners as she goes in search of a third title and many think she among the favorites.
“Well, actually, I don’t,” she told reporters at a sun-drenched Devonshire Park. “I mean, I just came back to play tennis, to enjoy the sport which I always loved.
“Maybe the last tournament changed something in people’s minds but not in mine. I’m really enjoying every match but, still, I think I do have lot of things to improve.
“I showed myself that I can play five matches in six days, but now I need a bit to relax to be ready. I know how tough it is to win a grand slam, so I’m not really seeing myself as one of the favorites right now.”
Kvitova said she now felt no discomfort from the hand that required four hours of surgery to repair tendons. But lasting the course of a grand slam throws up physical challenges.
“Even if the hand it’s not in pain, I really don’t know how the body will react,” she said. “The matches are different with the tightness, with the body and the nerves and everything.”
Her immediate concern is the injury she felt while beating Australian Ashleigh Barty in the Aegon Classic final on Sunday.
“It’s an abdominal muscle,” Kvitova, Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, told a news conference.
“It got tight in yesterday’s final. I hope it’s nothing serious, but I do feel one spot specifically. I hope it will be fine in a couple of days.
“I will have treatment. I will not practice for a couple of days, for sure. I’m disappointed I can’t play here. It’s a great tournament. I played the final one year and it’s always been great preparation for me for Wimbledon.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)