Petra Kvitova had pulled out of the Hopman Cup earlier this week with Lucie Hradecka replacing her in the exhibition tournament. The reason for the withdrawal did NOT have to do with the recent home invasion and stabbing injuries that she suffered as a result. Kvitova was already nursing a fractured foot, and she cited that injury as the reason for her withdrawal.
“I am so disappointed I will be unable to play at the Hopman Cup,” she claimed before Tuesday in an article at the Hopman Cup’s homepage. “The results of an MRI have confirmed that my foot is healing but not as quickly as we would have liked.”
In my attempt to defend myself, I was badly injured on my left hand. I am shaken, but fortunate to be alive. The injury is severe and I will
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) December 20, 2016
The Hopman Cup, which takes place in the first week of the year from Perth, lost something big when they lost Kvitova. However, shortly after citing her foot injury as the reason for the withdrawal Kvitova then faced a malicious robber in her home, one that was able to gain entry to her apartment complex by posing as a maintenance worker. On Tuesday, Kvitova suffered what she called via Twitter “severe” injuries to her hand. Originally the update left me wondering “which hand” although perhaps ultimately it may not have mattered much.
A December 21st article at the WTA website has confirmed that it was her left that was injured in the attack. Kvitova is left handed so perhaps that is worse news than if she had suffered injuries in her less-dominant hand. According to the WTA article, the stabbing injuries will keep Kvitova “off the court for no fewer than three months next year.”
Clearly, that takes the 2017 Australian Open in January out of the question for Kvitova. Furthermore, it will also take her out of both Indian Wells and Miami, two high-ranking tournaments on tour. If she returns three months into the season, then tennis fans can expect her back in early April, the same month that Maria Sharapova is expected back. However, the three-month time frame for Kvitova was reported as a minimum. There are also questions about how she will be affected afterwards. On that topic, current headlines are positive regarding her chances as Radio Prague headlined that doctors are “optimistic” about her successful return (Jan Velinger/December 21st).
For ranking implications, a three-month recovery time would not be a disaster. Kvitova was more effective during the latter half of 2016 than the earlier half. She earned only 457 ranking points in the first three months last season, meaning that is what she stands to leave undefended if she misses January to March inclusive.
That Kvitova was able to fend off her attacker and protect her life is the most important thing. However, it would be a major tennis tragedy if the two-time Grand Slam champion, who is still only 26 years old, had the course of her career changed going forward. In my view, she was a contender for the year-end No. 1 ranking in 2017 before the stabbing so hopefully the doctors’ optimism is insightful, and she does return to her late-2016 form in 2017.