Petra Kvitova proud despite pain of Australian Open final defeat against Naomi Osaka
"I still don't really realise that I played the final," says Kvitova after thrilling three-set loss in Melbourne.
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 26/01/19 2:52pm
Petra Kvitova says she has already won after overcoming a potentially career-ending injury to compete in a Grand Slam final, but conceded she was "hurting" after losing to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open showpiece.
Kvitova was injured in a knife attack by an intruder at her home in December 2016, initially fearing the end of her career, but the Czech reached her first Grand Slam final since her second Wimbledon title in 2014.
I wanted to win and have the trophy. But I think I already won two years ago. So, for me, it's amazing.
The 28-year-old threatened to stage a remarkable comeback win when she saved three match points to force a deciding set but Osaka returned the match in her favour to prevail after two hours and 27 minutes of thrilling tennis.
Despite the pain of suffering defeat, Kvitova was able to reflect on the match with perspective: "It's hurting a lot today," Kvitova said.
"I wanted to win and have the trophy. But I think I already won two years ago. So, for me, it's amazing. I think I still don't really realise that I played the final."
Kvitova was seen with her head in her hands moments after the match was completed, seemingly processing how far she has come since undergoing surgery on her playing hand following the robbery at her apartment in the Czech Republic.
"I've been through many, many things, not really great ones. As I said on the court, I didn't know if I'm going to hold the racket again. I'm holding it, so that's good," the 28-year-old added.
"There's still a few things which I can improve, and we'll do it. So it's not the end. I'll be back for sure."
Kvitova had won her last eight finals, including the Sydney International in the lead-up to the first Grand Slam of the campaign, and she is thrilled with how she is playing.
"I feel great. I'm playing great tennis," Kvitova said. "I don't think that I could really imagine ... (being) kind of this player again."
After showing her undoubted fighting spirit to extend the match the distance from an unlikely position, Kvitova was unable to maintain the change in ascendancy in her favour as Osaka showed great resolve to earn victory in the pair's first meeting.
"I was thinking that if I turn it around, probably (momentum) it's on my side. In the end, it wasn't," she said. after Osaka rallied to take a decisive break in the third set.
"I don't think I played really badly, but I just maybe could have gone a little bit more aggressive one or two rallies."
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