11th seed Petra Kvitova started off her quest for a third Wimbledon title fairly well on Monday, with the Czech seeing off Sweden’s Johanna Larsson 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 31 minutes to reach the second round.
Kvitova, playing in the third tournament of her comeback from injuries sustained in a knife attack at her home, had not played on Centre Court since 2015 where she lost to Jelena Jankovic in the third round, and was undoubtedly nervous at some stages of this encounter. But the 2011 and 2014 champion at the All England Club was simply too strong for Larsson at the end of the day, with the Swede’s wait for a first win at SW19 continuing.
It was hardly a flawless performance by the Czech, who struggled at some stages and had a fairly average first serve percentage of 56 percent, though Kvitova will undoubtedly be happy to have marked her remarkable return to a court she loves so much with a win.
Kvitova survives nerves, proves too strong for Larsson
Kvitova had downplayed her position as one of the favorites for the title heading into the tournament, and there were undoubtedly nerves early on, with three double faults seeing the Czech get broken by Larsson in the opening game of this encounter, though some better serving saw her avoid falling a double break down in the opening stages.
However, against an opponent who had never won a main draw match at SW19, Kvitova seemingly shook off some early nerves, and broke to love to get back on level terms against the Swede. The Czech was seemingly striking the ball better and held comfortably to take the lead for the first time, though Larsson, who had never won a main draw at Wimbledon, held fairly comfortably herself to prevent Kvitova winning three games in a row.
The Swede’s resistance, however, did not last too long. Kvitova, who lost in the second round to Ekaterina Makarova last year, took control of the encounter and won eight of the next ten points to put herself 5-3 up. The 11th seed showed some signs of nerves when serving for the set, though she saved three break points to eventually seal the opener in 34 minutes.
There was a sense that Larsson had done very little wrong to find herself a set down, and the Swede showed some resistance early on in the second set, coming through an eight-minute game to start the second set with a hold. However, that resistance did not last too long, with Kvitova holding herself and then breaking to put herself in complete control of the encounter.
Despite seemingly being down and out, Larsson kept trying her best to stay in the match, not giving Kvitova any opportunities to break. It seemed that she had worked her way back into it when she broke to even things up at four games apiece, though Kvitova raised her level when it mattered and broke to put herself in the position to serve for the match.
It would not have been a surprise if Kvitova had suffered a few nerves when serving the match out, though the 11th seed looked fairly calm and in control as she saw off Larsson and recorded her 30th win at Wimbledon, with an ace sealing the victory.