Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will be out of tennis for at least six months as she recovers from a knife attack – but should be able to resume her career.
The Czech, 26, underwent surgery to tendons and nerves on her playing hand following the attack by an intruder at her home in Prostejov on Tuesday.
Kvitova faces a slow rehabilitation process after 14 days of bed rest.
The “best-case scenario” sees her on the practice court after six months.
Surgeon Radek Kebrle said that the operation on Kvitova’s left hand went “very well, with no complications,” but it will be three months until the world number 11 can even grip a racquet.
“It is too soon to specify when precisely she can return to competition, but Petra is ready to do everything she can to get back competing at the highest level,” said a statement from her management.
“Petra is happy with how the operation went and is in good spirits.”
Kvitova had said she was “shaken” and “fortunate to be alive” following the incident on Tuesday.
She suffered lacerations to her left hand when struggling with an intruder who posed as a utilities man to gain access to her apartment.
Kvitova faces a long road back to competitive action but given the nature of the attack she suffered, it will be a victory for the Czech simply to step back onto the court to resume her professional career.
When that will be is unclear as the rehabilitation process cannot get under way until six to eight weeks after Tuesday’s surgery, and the early prognosis suggests she will not return to the practice court for six months.
However, her initial statements have been bullish and she will be especially motivated to get back after the impressive form she showed in the second half of 2016.
Assuming she is out for at least six months, Kvitova will return with a ‘special ranking’ that will allow her to enter up to eight tournaments with the ranking of 11 that she held when she last played.
She will not lack for support as one of the most popular players in the sport, both among spectators and her fellow competitors.
The example of Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro might provide some inspiration – a similarly popular player who returned triumphantly this year after potentially career-ending wrist problems.
Kvitova career stats
- Turned professional in 2006, aged 16
- First Wimbledon appearance as a junior in 2007, reaching the last 16
- First career title in 2009 – the Hobart International, Australia
- Now has 19 titles with career prize money totalling more than £18.4m
- Reached a career-high of world number two in October 2011, behind Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki
- Won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, losing her semi-final to eventual gold medallist Monica Puig