By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros
- Petra Kvitova withdraws with an arm injury
- Following her out of the tournament was Caroline Wozniacki
- No such problems for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
- Serena Williams harnessed her inner…well… everything to battle in to the second round.
PARIS, FRANCE – Day 2 of first round action started badly with the news of Petra Kvitova‘s withdrawal, but Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams live to see round two.
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Kvitova: ‘My tears went to my eyes’ – pulls out with tear in forearm
As if one of the WTA’s most beloved players had not had enough strife in her life, Petra Kvitova had to withdraw from the tournament on the morning of Day 2, before a ball had even been struck.
She had been on a seven-match winning streak from the start of her clay court season, winning Stuttgart and becoming the first two-time singles winner of 2019.
She told reporters: “When I started to practice Roland Garros, I started to feel a little bit my forearm, but yesterday when I hit was much more worse, and suddenly I felt the pain. Immediately I had to stop my practice.
“I went to have an MRI, and unfortunately I have a tear in my forearm, which is not great. I sent it to my doctor (Dr. Kebrle) and same opinion as tournament doctor. He said that I shouldn’t really play. It can be much more worse and I could be off for six weeks.
“So now it’s shorter period of time to take time to heal it and do whatever I need to do.”
She made an emotional come-back in 2017 after a career-threatening knife attack and since then has gone from strength to strength. In 2018 she won a WTA-leading five titles, on all three surfaces and incredibly despite the knife attack, has won at least one title every year, dating back to 2011.
She described how the pain brought her to tears, but also was optimistic that her comeback this time would not be either as long, or as unknown.
Kvitova continued: “I hit a normal forehand, and suddenly I felt a sharp pain in the forearm. Yeah, my tears went to my eyes, and I said, Okay, I finish this practice. So then I went to ultrasound. They didn’t see anything on ultrasound. They sent me to MRI and they found on there.
“I already handle much more tougher things than just tear in my forearm. So of course it’s my left hand again, so I’m using my right a little bit more. So I’m back in my younger years (smiling).
“But it will be not probably that tough as it was. Before, I didn’t know what it will be and what’s going to be. Now I know that I gonna heal it. Doesn’t matter how long and I gonna be back, so it’s much more easier I think.”
Wozniacki’s clay woes come to an end
Similar to close friend Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki found her somewhat stilted clay court season came to an end with a first round loss to Veronika Kudermetova. The Dane might have started the clay court season well enough in Charleston on the grey-green variety, reaching the final there, but she had to withdraw in both her Madrid and Rome openers.
Despite blasting past the Russian without relinquishing a game, she could not keep up and admitted that she had run out of steam, coming up short on match sharpness.
She said: “I had a calf injury, so I hadn’t really been able to play or practice for some weeks, and then played my first points a couple of days ago and then just went from there basically.
“I think you just try your best out there. And it definitely wasn’t the best match I’ve ever played. So, you know, I definitely think I made some unforced errors I shouldn’t have and then didn’t take the chances I had in the second set.”
She stunned reporters and fans alike last year when she revealed she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but recently the effects have not been as debilitating for the former World No. 1.
“I’ve been feeling good with that, so when I feel good I just do what I normally do and just go through every day and work hard. But lately it’s just been my calf, which is nothing to do with the other thing. And sometimes you’re just unlucky as an athlete. You know, you get hurt, you get injured, and you just have to try to work through that.”
Still – there is a bright side, as her beloved Liverpool will be facing Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League final – although she may opt for the easy way to watch, as opposed to the rest of us who will try and find a place with a TV near Roland Garros!
“You know what? I actually haven’t thought about that yet. Most likely I’ll watch it at home, but I’ll definitely be supporting them.”
Nadal & Djokovic Business-like
Did we expect anything different? Rafael Nadal breezed through his encounter on a day where if you had tickets to Philippe Chatrier you had the big names all to yourself. He made short work of qualifier Yannick Hanfmann as he started his bid to become the first player (male or female) to win 12 singes titles a the same Grand Slam event.
Now for Novak Djokovic, this could have been the makings of a tricky encounter – Hubert Hurkacz has started to make a name for himself, reaching the quarter-finals in Dubai and Indian Wells, but despite the odd Djokovic furrowed brow at times, he still eased himself into the second round.
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I am Serena, hear me roar
One of the match-ups of the day had to be Serena Williams. No, not that she was facing Vitalia Diatchenko, although that did actually prove to be surprisingly challenging. It was the unveiling of the designer outfit that caused the initial stir.
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) May 26, 2019
A flowing over-top proved to be a challenge, not least of which the words on there in French: Queen, Mother, Champion, Goddess.
Williams explained: On the outfit it has words in French, and it says “Queen,” it says “Champion,” and it says “Mom,” and those are things that mean a lot to me and reminders for me and for everyone that, you know, that wants to wear it. Just remind everyone that they, you know, can be champions and are queens. So I love that about it.”
Not enough though to keep the whole outfit on show as the court can get quite cold and eventually Williams opted for a plain black zip-up top for the remainder of the match.
She surmised: “I was just making so many errors. Every shot I hit, I felt like I was hitting on my frame. I usually don’t hit balls on my frame. I was just off, basically. And then instead of correcting it, I just kept getting worse, just to be honest.
“I knew it couldn’t get worse, and I knew I could only go up. That’s what I told myself. I just gotta keep positive. Yeah, it was just a strange start to that match, for me.”
For now there does not look to be any lingering injury issues and we hope she will take to the court for her second round match.
Play begins on Day Three at 11am (10am BST).
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