Kvitova focuses on the positive after French semi-final loss

PARIS (Reuters) - Petra Kvitova leaned more towards celebrating her return to the French Open last four after eight years than ruing her missed chances against Sofia Kenin in a 6-4 7-5 loss on Thursday.

Oct 8, 2020; Paris, France; Petra Kvitova (CZE) in action during her match against Sofia Kenin (USA) on day 12 at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Kvitova, who suffered a career-threatening hand injury in 2016 following a knife attack during a burglary at her Czech home, returned to tennis at the 2017 French Open and felt like taking heart from this year’s run at Roland Garros.

“I mean, being in a semi-final here, it was great achievement for me definitely. I’m very happy and glad and grateful for that, for sure,” the seventh seed told a news conference.

“I could be at home watching and not even play tennis anymore. So for me, just to be in the semi-final here in the Grand Slam, it’s something real special.

“Even if a loss is painful, which is normal and should be like this, I’m very happy how everything went.”

Since her comeback, Kvitova had not made it past the quarter-final stage at a Grand Slam until last year’s U.S. Open, and her last-four appearance here confirmed the 30-year-old is back for good, with the help of coach Jiri Vanek.

“I’m very pleased for everything I’ve been through in the last three years, four years,” she said.

“With Jiri, we’ve been together for four years. I think our work, it’s on the good way, I would say.

“I think he helped me a lot with consistency, the mental strength, with the kind of believing in myself with the confidence, which I was a little bit struggling (with) maybe before.

“I think that even now sometimes I do have the Plan B, too, on the court when I’m not really playing the best and everything. I’m able to find a way to win it.”

Kvitova, however, has to deal with the rise of a new generation of players - starting with Kenin, 21, and the fourth-seeded American’s opponent in Saturday’s final, 19-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland.

It does not scare the experienced Czech though.

“I’m ready to challenge them. I don’t want to give them a free spot, for sure. I mean, none of us (do),” Kvitova said with a smile. “For sure I’m not ending my career yet, so that’s how it is.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris