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Kvitova wins opening match on grass in Birmingham

20 Juin 2017

Kvitova got another break to seal the set, and then broke again to lead 3-1 in the second before closing out the match.

Kvitova had come away from her comeback tournament, the French Open where she won only one match, with an empty feeling. Wimbledon has been special for Kvitova, who won her titles in 2011 and 2014 and it's not just the tournament but the city too that she loves. She is very consistent with her game but also with her results.

Some of the delicate touches requiring most from hand tendons were awry but Kvitova settled, punching some deep groundstrokes, and forged ahead when Smitkova threw in a surprise double fault in a tight game midway through the first set.

"It isn't easy when a Grand Slam doesn't end as you want", she said. "I didn't know I was going to win until the last moment". I love England. At Wimbledon, it feels so quiet, so comfy, for me as a home. "We have still been worrying about it (the injury) so I still have days off, to remind us to be careful", she added, referring to her support team. "It's just more relaxed for me and it's fantastic".

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"I'm happy for every match I'm playing now - even stupid practice I'm really glad that I'm able to play and my hand is not in pain". She took 83 minutes to beat 22-year-old Smitkova, who is ranked 167th in the world. The first days, first months, were very hard mentally as well, I do have my mental coach so I was working with him a lot on this but I have to say that people around me, family and friends, helped me a lot as well.

2015 Roland Garros champion and former Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza, seeded six in Birmingham, is up against Russian qualifier Elizaveta Kulichkova; while third seed Dominka Cibulkova and risky unseeded floater Lucie Safarova face off in one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of day two. "I think I will have to get used to my 'new hand' if I can call it that, we are still anxious about some inflammation and that kind of thing but I think it is a small risk, now compared to a few months ago". "So I think I'm getting over it, so it will be there probably for the rest of my life, but I think I will deal with it somehow", she said.

"I always loved to play tennis but now it is a different level".

Kvitova wins opening match on grass in Birmingham