Published: Tue, July 04, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Petra Kvitova recovers from shaky start to defeat Johanna Larsson

Petra Kvitova recovers from shaky start to defeat Johanna Larsson

What added to the win's significance was that it was Kvitova's only second tournament of her post-injury comeback and her first event on grass.

Kvitova will next face the victor of the contest between American Madison Brengle and Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands.

But the 27-year-old has recovered far quicker than expectedand last month proved she's still a major force in the women's game with a stunning win at the Aegon Championships in Birmingham.

The Czech won the point of the day in the eight game of the first set, changing at the last minute from a defensive shot to an aggressive solution, delivering the forewand victor down the line that gave her the crucial break at 5-3. With Serena Williams out, Wimbledon is there for somebody to grab it with both hands.

Keys beat Japan's Nao Hibino 6-4 6-4 in a tick over an hour.

Past year she surged through the draw to reach the semi-finals here and she's since built on that, making the final of January's Australian Open.

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With Serena Williams preparing for the birth of her first child and Maria Sharapova sidelined by a thigh injury, the race to be crowned the women's Wimbledon champion is the most wide open in a generation. "Through the Birmingham tournament, I felt like every round I played better and better, which is always good sign".

A cross-court forehand helped the two-time champion open up a 3-1 lead in the second, but a pair of unforced errors preceded a double-fault as Larsson looked to force her way back in. "I'm still surprised", she said.

Six months on from suffering career-threatening hand injuries when she was stabbed by an intruder at her home, Kvitova was a picture of contentment in London, thrilled to be fit and well two days out from her opening match. Things have changed this year, but much relies on how she will handle the pressure piled on her. "I'm happy to play against anybody".

Madrid Open victor Simona Halep, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, five-time Wimbledon victor Venus Williams and Britain's very own Johanna Konta are also among the contenders.

Wozniacki has also seemed to come alive this grass court season, and her run to the Eastbourne final kept her good record up down by the sea-side although the Dane has the likes of Coco Vandeweghe or Kristina Mladenovic coming for her potentially in the fourth round. And, who will be the player who will be the upset of the tournament?

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