London - Two-time
champion Petra Kvitova denied she was the favourite to win Wimbledon,
insisting she remained an "underground" figure as she returns from the
terrifying knife attack that nearly ended her career.
The Czech star is playing just her third tournament on the comeback
trail after her frightening ordeal at the hands of a knife-wielding
She suffered severe injuries to her playing left hand in December while fighting off the attacker in her own home.
In what was just her eighth match back since returning to tennis in
May, the world number 12 beat Sweden's 53-ranked Johanna Larsson 6-3,
6-4 on Centre Court in an emotional first round return to Wimbledon,
scene of her greatest triumphs.
She has already been installed as the bookmaker's favourite to win
the crown in southwest London, ahead of compatriot Karolina Pliskova,
British home favourite Johanna Konta, Spain's Garbine Muguruza and
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
But Kvitova maintained she was an "underground" outsider with six
more stops to go before reaching the dream destination - starting with
Madison Brengle of the United States in round two.
"My expectation is to stand up on Wednesday in the match and just
play what I can," the 27-year-old said, keeping her sights low.
"I don't see myself really too ahead. I'm just here to play every
single match that I can. I'm not really thinking that I'm the favourite
of the tournament. I'm still underground."
from speak directly about the December attack as the police
investigation in the Czech Republic is still ongoing.
"Every traumatic situation is always tough. I feel like for women
it's more difficult because we are more sensitive and more emotional,"
"It's not easy. You still want to be focus on each point you are
playing, but at the same time you just get upset with something else.
It's just difficult to switch to tennis again."
The scars from the attack are causing Kvitova problems. She used a
cream throughout her opening match to help her grip her racquet.
"It's just drying your hands," she said.
"With the scars on my hand, it's helping me to keep the racquet stronger than before."
Kvitova's surgeon, who perhaps could be said to have saved her career, was sat in her box to watch Monday's match.
"It was a special one. I'm really glad that he took the invitation. He came with his wife to support me," she said.
The 2011 and 2014
champion received a heartfelt welcome from the Centre Court crowd, but
they did not witness quite so many fist pumps from Kvitova.
"I couldn't still do it by my left, but that's okay. I'm using it
sometimes. But then I realise every time that I couldn't do it. It's
weird. But I can get used to this," she said.
"I felt the energy from the crowd and it was amazing to be back here
at Wimbledon and playing on the beautiful Centre Court. It's the
favourite court of my career.
"It was my motivation to come back and play in Wimbledon. I'm very happy that the dream came true."
Kvitova went out in the second round at the French Open in May in her
comeback tournament but went on to win Birmingham, one of the Wimbledon
warm-up events, boosting her credentials as a potential title winner at
the All England Club.
She was due to play at Eastbourne last week but pulled out with an abdominal injury.
The Czech number two said she felt no pain during Monday's opener,
but insisted she was lacking match sharpness in her serving and ground
Wimbledon results on Monday, the first day of the 2017 championships at the All England Club (x denotes seeding):
Andy Murray (GBR x1) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
Dustin Brown (GER) bt João Sousa (POR) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4
Jirí Veselý (CZE) bt Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
Fabio Fognini (ITA x28) bt Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 6-1, 6-3, 6-3
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Nick Kyrgios (AUS x20) 6-3, 6-4 -- retired
Benoît Paire (FRA) bt Rogério Dutra Silva (BRA) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (12/10), 6-4
Jerzy Janowicz (POL) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2)
Lucas Pouille (FRA x14) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x12) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Simone Bolelli (ITA) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Carlos Berlocq (ARG) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1
Sam Querrey (USA x24) bt Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, 6-2
Kevin Anderson (RSA) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP x31) 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8), 6-3
Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) bt Tommy Haas (GER) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
Daniil Medvedev (RUS) bt Stan Wawrinka (SUI x5) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
Rafael Nadal (ESP x4) bt John Millman (AUS) 6-1, 6-3, 6-2
Donald Young (USA) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-2 - retired
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) bt Andrew Whittington (AUS) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5)
Karen Khachanov (RUS x30) bt Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (GBR) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO x21) 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (9/7), 8-6
Damir Džumhur (BIH) bt Renzo Olivo (ARG) 6-2, 6-0, 6-1
Lukáš Rosol (CZE) bt Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4
Gilles Muller (LUX x16) bt Márton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-5, 6-4, 6-2
Kei Nishikori (JPN x9) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-2, 6-2, 6-0
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) bt Julien Benneteau (FRA) 6-3, 7-6 (10/8), 2-6, 6-2
Peter Gojowczyk (GER) bt Marius Copil (ROM) 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
Roberto Bautista (ESP x18) bt Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 6-3, 6-1, 6-2
Steve Johnson (USA x26) bt Nicolás Kicker (ARG) 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
Florian Mayer (GER) bt Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-1 -- retired
Marin Cilic (CRO x7) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x8) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-3, 3-6, 9-7
Jennifer Brady (USA) bt Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-3, 6-1
Irina Begu (ROM) bt Naomi Broady (GBR) 6-4, 6-2
Ana Konjuh (CRO x27) bt Sabine Lisicki (GER) 6-1, 6-4
Barbora Strýcová (CZE x22) bt Verónica Cepede (PAR) 6-3, 6-3
Naomi Osaka (JPN) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-3, 7-6 (7/3)
Wang Qiang (CHN) bt Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) 6-3, 6-4
Venus Williams (USA x10) bt Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6 (9/7), 6-4
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x13) bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-0, 1-6, 6-3
Françoise Abanda (CAN) bt Kurumi Nara (JPN) 6-2, 6-4
Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
Madison Keys (USA x17) bt Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-4, 6-2
Carina Witthoeft (GER) bt Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO x26) 6-3, 5-7, 8-6
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) bt Irina Khromacheva (RUS) 6-3, 6-4
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) bt Mandy Minella (LUX) 6-1, 6-1
Elina Svitolina (UKR x4) bt Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 7-5, 7-6 (10/8)
Johanna Konta (GBR x6) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-2, 6-2
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-1
Maria Sakkari (GRE) bt Katerina Siniaková (CZE) 6-3, 6-4
Kristýna Plíšková (CZE) bt Roberta Vinci (ITA x31) 7-6 (8/6), 6-2
Caroline Garcia (FRA x21) bt Jana Cepelová (SVK) 6-1, 6-1
Ana Bogdan (ROM) bt Duan Ying-Ying (CHN) 6-4, 6-2
Madison Brengle (USA) bt Richel Hogenkamp (NED) 6-3, 6-3
Petra Kvitova (CZE x11) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-3, 6-4
Elena Vesnina (RUS x15) bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-4, 5-7, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt CiCi Bellis (USA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Heather Watson (GBR) bt Maryna Zanevska (BEL) 6-1, 7-6 (7/5)
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-1, 7-6 (7/3)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x25) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 1-6, 6-1, 6-1
Peng Shuai (CHN) bt Markéta Vondroušová (CZE) 6-7 (5/7), 6-0, 6-4
Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) bt Laura Robson (GBR) 6-4, 6-2
Simona Halep (ROM x2) bt Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-4, 6-1