Getty Images

Man who stabbed Petra Kvitova gets eight-year prison term

Leave a comment

PRAGUE — A man who stabbed two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in her home was sentenced to eight years in prison on Tuesday.

Radim Zondra, 33, was convicted of causing Kvitova serious bodily harm by a regional court in Brno.

The state prosecutor requested 12 years for Zondra, who pleaded not guilty to attacking Kvitova in December 2016 in her apartment in Prostejov.

After a quarterfinal round loss in the Miami Open on Tuesday night, Kvitova addressed the verdict.

“Yeah, I heard that, for sure, I heard that this morning,” she said. “I accepted the news. I’m happy for the news and I’m glad it’s over now.”

Kvitova’s spokesman, Karel Tejkal, said she “respects the ruling of an independent court.”

“She’s satisfied with the verdict because she identified the convicted person as the attacker,” Tejkal said.

Zondra can appeal, and so can the prosecution.

Kvitova had surgery on injuries to her playing left hand. It took the tennis star more than five months to recover.

Kvitova reached the Australian Open final in January, her first Grand Slam final since her second Wimbledon title in 2014. She is ranked a career-high No. 2.

Her testimony provided key evidence for the court to rule in the case, Judge Dagmar Bordovska said.

Kvitova testified she opened the door when Zondra rang the doorbell because she expected a possible doping control. The suspect claimed he came to inspect her boiler.

In the attack, Kvitova sustained damage to the tendons in her hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, and underwent nearly four hours of surgery.(

While bleeding, she said she offered Zondra money. He accepted 10,000 Czech crowns ($440) and left.

Zondra has a criminal record behind him.

In 2012, he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for being a member of a gang that attacked lonely pensioners. After he was released when his sentenced was suspended, he gave a tip to a gang of three 2015 to rob a lawyer. The three tortured that person and robbed him of some 50,000 Czech crowns.

For his tip, Zondra received last year a two-and-a-half year prison term he currently serves.

John Isner advances to final on Newport’s hot grass courts

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEWPORT, R.I. — Top-seeded John Isner overcame extremely hot conditions and a first-set tiebreaker loss to beat fourth-seeded Ugo Humbert of France 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Saturday and advance to the Hall of Fame Open final.

The 34-year-old American will face Alexander Bublik, a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4 winner over Marcel Granollers of Spain. The 22-year-old Bublik, from Kazakhstan, reached his first career ATP final.

The matches were played before induction ceremonies for the 2019 class of Li Na from China, Mary Pierce of France, and Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Playing in a feel-like temperature in the 90s, Isner, ranked 15th in the world coming into the week, broke in the second game of the final set – the first break of the match – en route to his fourth final on Newport’s grass courts. He won in 2011, `12 and ’17.

“The length of the match is fine. That’s what happens, especially with matches like mine,” the big-serving Isner said. “It’s really hot and humid and takes a lot (out) of you. To be honest, I don’t feel really great right now.”

Isner is into his 28th ATP final.

In a match that lasted 2 hours, 44 minutes, started in sunshine and ended with shadows creeping nearly halfway across the court, Isner had two aces in the final game to go up 40-0.

He hit a forehand winner at the net and pumped his fist when it ended.

Isner hit a forehand winner down the line to win the second-set tiebreaker and force the deciding set.

“That was a big shot,” he said. “I always say when I win the second set, I’m going to win the match.”

Bublik broke in the fifth game of the final set to take control of his match.

Just before he closed it out, an elderly female fan, seated courtside in the sun, was carried out on a chair by two men with ushers helping. The feel-like temperature at the time was in the upper 90s with the sun beating down on the court and some spectators.

“It’s hot,” said Bublik when asked about the conditions during a post-match interview on the court. “I’m just glad I won a match.”

The stadium seating and courtside seats – both located in the sun and usually at least about three-quarters full on induction day – had less than a hundred people seated for both semifinals.

Li Na’s journey to stretch from China to Hall of Fame

AP Photo
Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Li Na remembers first watching a tennis match on TV, drawn to the unforgettable style of one of the players.

Andre Agassi had long hair, an earring and wore denim shorts, and made an instant fan in China.

“Andre Agassi is my role model,” Li said.

Li went on to become one herself.

The first player from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles title, she will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this weekend, celebrated not only for her skills on the court but for her contribution to the growth of the sport in her country.

“She’s like an icon in China. She’s a huge superstar,” said Mike Silverman, the director of sport for New York’s City Parks Foundation.

Li conducted a clinic with children from the organization on Thursday and her influence was obvious. Many of the young players were Asian, including one teenage boy Silverman thinks is good enough to get a college scholarship. They were probably too young to remember much of her career – she retired in 2014 because of knee problems – but her impact didn’t end when her playing days did.

“There’s no question that Li Na, when she was playing and even now, tennis in China has never been the same since she won the French Open,” Silverman said. “It changed everything.”

That was in 2011, when more than 116 million people in China watched the final. Li added a second major title in 2014 at the Australian Open after twice losing in its final, rose to No. 2 in the WTA rankings and earned more than 500 singles wins.

“At least I always try my best in tennis on the court,” Li said. “If you try everything I think one day for sure there will be payback.”

The mother of two children is a little nervous about the induction ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island, as she tries to put together her thoughts in English. But perhaps she can take a lesson from something else she admired about Agassi.

“He never cared about what other people say, he just did his own,” said Li, who is joined in this year’s class by fellow two-time Grand Slam singles champions Mary Pierce of France and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.

Li said she can see the growth of tennis in China, where the WTA Finals will be played in Shenzhen and which got another event on the tour’s calendar this year when the former Connecticut Open was moved to Zhengzhou.

“It’s not only good for the athletes, it’s also good for the fans to have less traveling,” Li said. “They can see a high-level tournament in China.”

Fans can see plenty of them, as there are nine women’s tournaments in China after the U.S. Open. The country may not have a long tennis history, but Li thinks it will continue to get bigger.

“For me, I think China tennis is still young,” she said. “They can have a lot of time to grow up.”