NEW YORK (Reuters) - After a five-month injury layoff, Petra Kvitova is taking a relaxed approach to the U.S. Open and it paid off on Sunday when the Czech upset pre-tournament favorite Garbine Muguruza to reach the quarter-finals.
Kvitova suffered a career-threatening injury to her left playing hand, when an intruder stabbed her at her home in December but she has been recovering faster than expected.
Seeded 13th at Flushing Meadows, Kvitova went through the early rounds without dropping a set but Sunday’s challenge on Arthur Ashe Stadium was supposed to be trickier as she was facing Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
She fell 4-1 behind at the start but the two-time Wimbledon champion, who made her comeback at the French Open in May, then won 12 of the 17 remaining games to prevail 7-6(3) 6-3.
It was her first win on Arthur Ashe.
“I should change my perspective about it. Maybe that’s why I didn’t ever have any expectation to play well here. That’s why probably I am playing more relaxed and more free maybe,” she told a news conference.
“I’m always putting a little bit of pressure on myself at Wimbledon because of the titles, I do have them. But I’m trying to find a rhythm at the U.S. Open.
“I’m not going on-site the day off. I’m staying by Central Park which is pretty relaxed.”
Next up for Kvitova is local favorite Venus Williams, the ninth seed who this season reached her first two grand slam finals since 2009 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
But Kvitova is relishing the challenge.
“I think that she’s playing amazing on the majors this year. I mean, she is really playing very, very well on the big stages,” said Kvitova. “She played the final of Wimbledon. She’s a champion. It’s what we all know.
“It will be a great match for me to step on Ashe again probably and play there. I mean, we always had tough battles.
“I will try my best. I mean, she has a big serve, big server of course. She has something special which the other players doesn’t have. That’s what I will try to play again probably, similar game as today.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly