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Far from her best, Kvitova shows she still has it in Paris

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PARIS — There are at least two things that haven’t changed during Petra Kvitova’s six-month layoff. She remains a fierce competitor, and she still has her sense of humor.

The two-time Wimbledon champion’s comeback ended in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday after a close match against qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who recorded her best result at a major in nearly two years with a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) victory.

Kvitova, who was playing in her first tournament since she was injured in a knife attack at her home in December, threw her racket in frustration after she double-faulted on match point.

“I was mad,” Kvitova said.

A reporter then told the Czech player that her racket throwing might be a sign that she is already capable of tapping into her competitive instincts.

“I’m not sure. My father did not like it that I throw my racket, I think,” Kvitova replied.

Kvitova had missed all season prior to the French Open while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand. She sustained damage to the tendons, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, during the attack.

Doctors initially thought she would need more time before returning to tennis. But Kvitova’s recovery was faster than expected and she signed up for the French Open at the last minute.

In Paris, she managed to win her opening match but the gritty and experienced Mattek-Sands was too much of a hurdle.

“It’s weird. I mean, I’m disappointed, for sure. I came here to win the matches,” Kvitova said. “The fairytale ended. Now, in upcoming weeks, I think it will be business as usual. That’s what I’m looking forward to, just focusing on the tennis and on the game and everything what I do need to improve to my game.”

Kvitova will now quickly turn her focus to Wimbledon, where she won the title in 2011 and 2014, and hopes she will be able to play with less media pressure.

“Wimbledon should be much more relaxed afterwards,” she said. “I really am looking forward to being there. It’s a really great tournament for me. I have the best memories which I can have. I think that my game still suits on the grass, and I will do my best to be there.”

Mattek-Sands, a doubles champion at Roland Garros two years ago, is back in the third round of the French Open for the first time since 2013 and will next face Samantha Stosur.

The American with a punk rocker style – she plays in a shirt covered with cherries and wears long black socks – hadn’t won a main draw match in the last five Grand Slam tournaments.

Wozniacki beats Pavlyuchenkova for Pan Pacific title

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TOKYO — Caroline Wozniacki overwhelmed Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 7-5 to retain her Pan Pacific Open title on Sunday.

The victory gives Wozniacki, also champion in Tokyo in 2010, her first title of the year. The Dane had lost all six of her previous finals in 2017.

“This was my seventh final of the year – it gets harder to get that last win,” said world No. 6 Wozniacki, who has now won at least one title every year since 2008. “I’ve been putting myself in a position to win all year. It was really important for me to stay focused and positive.”

Wozniacki had crushed world No.1 Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals and a similar score looked on the cards here Sunday.

“The court suits my game. She plays powerfully so it was important for me to make her move around early on. In the first set everything was going my way. In the second set she served better, so it was tricky for me to break.”

The first set lasted only 20 minutes as Pavlyuchenkova struggled to get a foothold.

“I was really disappointed in the first three games,” said the Russian. “I felt I was a bit unlucky and really believe if I had turned those points round and won the games, it may have been a different match. I was a little down on myself and missed more than I should.”

The Russian fought harder in a second set that went with serve until the 12th and final game.

Yet she failed to earn a break point in the match and appeared outclassed in her first Premier-level final since Moscow in 2015. Semifinal opponent Angelique Kerber was the only seed she faced this week before third-seeded Wozniacki.

“It’s disappointing to lose no matter which round it is, even more disappointing in the final,” said Pavlyuchenkova, who needed three sets to win all four of her matches en route to the final.

“I felt a little flat due to the previous matches. I didn’t have so much energy left.”

Federer beats Kyrgios as Europe wins first Laver Cup

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PRAGUE — Roger Federer rallied to beat Nick Kyrgios 4-6, 7-6 (6), 11-9 Sunday and clinch the new Laver Cup tournament for Europe on Sunday.

The three-day competition at Prague’s O2 Arena pitted a team of the best six European players against the top six from the rest of the world.

Seen by some as a tennis version of the Ryder Cup in golf, the inaugural Laver Cup was played on an unusual black hard court.

Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych also formed the European team, while Sam Querrey, John Isner, Jack Sock, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe played for the world.

The tournament is to honor Rod Laver, an 11-time major champion who won two calendar-year Grand Slams.

Chicago will host it in 2018.