PARIS — Petra Kvitova stood wide-eyed and perfectly still, scarcely believing she was through to her first French Open quarterfinal in eight years after winning 6-2, 6-4 against Zhang Shuai of China on Monday.
When the chair umpire climbed down and pointed to the mark confirming her two-handed backhand had landed just in, she released her emotions. The seventh-seeded Czech player looked up in the air, then blew kisses and waved to the small crowd gathered on Court Philippe Chatrier, the tournament’s main stadium.
“Yeah, I got a bit emotional last two points of my match,” she said. “My memories, happy memories. When I made my comeback here in 2017, when I step on the Philippe Chatrier, I couldn’t really imagine me to be in the quarterfinal of this slam. Everything just came back to me.”
Three years ago, the left-handed Kvitova made her comeback at Roland Garros after sustaining serious injuries to her left hand following a knife attack by a robber at her home in the Czech Republic.
“When I’m talking, I’m getting emotional again. It’s been a long ride definitely. Everything came to my mind,” she said. “My whole family, people who I loved to help me through the tough, tough time. I don’t know, just everything came back.”
Then there were some match-point nerves to deal with.
At the U.S. Open last month, at the same stage of the competition, Kvitova wasted four match points in a loss to American Shelby Rogers.
“That match was really tough. Even I play great, I mean, I didn’t just make it,” she said. “It happen to me after such a long time that I didn’t win the match from the match point. Especially in a Grand Slam, right? It was really painful.”
Kvitova’s two Grand Slam titles were won on the green grass of Wimbledon in 2011 and ’14.
Success has so far eluded the former second-ranked player on Roland Garros’ red clay. Her only semifinal in western Paris was in 2012, and since then she’d reached the fourth round just once prior to this tournament, and that was five years ago.
“I think it’s been a miracle for me to make the semifinal here,” she said. “After eight years to be in the quarterfinal again, it’s great. I’m really happy for that, that I’m still able to play on all surfaces.”
Kvitova had a first chance to close out the match serving at 5-2, but Zhang broke and then held.
“She served very well, played very aggressive,” Kvitova said. “It’s great, it was a nice battle today.”
Her next opponent, Laura Siegemund, meanwhile, complained about receiving sub-standard snacks after a 7-5, 6-2 win against Paula Badosa.
As she was gathering her things before leaving, a court-side microphone captured an exchange with an official. Siegemund explained, in crude terms, how unimpressed with what she’d been given to eat by her physio.
“I have to have a word with my physio,” Siegemund said, emphasising her disappointment with an expletive.
Siegemund saw the funny side when asked about it after the match.
“There are cameras everywhere and you cannot say anything without anybody noticing it. It’s fine,” she said, laughing. “I was trying to get some carbs in. I tried the (energy) bar, couldn’t get it down really. So I asked my physio to bring me something else. I just wanted to get some carbs, some potato or rice, whatever.”
The 22-year-old German player had never previously been beyond the second round at the French Open and never beyond the third round at any major tournament.
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin turned things around at the French Open after a poor opening set to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the first time.
The No. 4-seeded Kenin beat the 49th-ranked Fiona Ferro 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 at Court Philippe Chatrier. Ferro was the last French man or woman still around in singles.
Chair umpire Marijana Veljovic warned Kenin’s father, Alexander, for coaching, which is not allowed during Grand Slam matches. Alexander Kenin had changed seats during the match to be right next to Ferro’s coach, Emmanuel Planque, who was closer to the court.
Kenin upset Serena Williams at last year’s French Open en route to making it to the fourth round. But until now, the 21-year-old American had never been to the quarterfinals at any clay-court tournament.
She won her first Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park at the start of this season and now is 14-1 at major tournaments in 2020.
Kenin won’t find out who her next opponent is until Tuesday. That’s because the fourth-round match between another American, Danielle Collins, and 30th-seeded Ons Jabeur of Tunisia was rained out Monday and delayed a day.
Collins and Jabeur will now play the first match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday, and the women’s quarterfinal round will get underway immediately after. The winner of the match will next play on Wednesday, and with a victory in the quarterfinals, would have to play on Thursday in the semifinals.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.