PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) - Petra Kvitova came within three points of falling in the first round of tennis' French Open, before three successive aces and her nerves of steel carried her to a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over little-known Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg on Monday (May 28).
The Czech, who suffered career-threatening injuries on her playing left hand after being attacked in her home by a knife-wielding intruder in December 2016, arrived in Paris on the back of an 11-match winning streak.
But Cepede Royg came close to snapping that run as she edged 5-4 and 0-15 ahead on Kvitova's serve in the third set.
But the woman who proved even her surgeon wrong by coming back to play top-level tennis just five months after the attack unleashed three successive aces to survive that scare.
She was soon saluting the crowd with a raised clenched fist as she broke in the next game, before wrapping up victory to set up a second-round meeting with Spain's Lara Arruabarrena.
The 28-year-old is one of the favourites to secure a maiden Roland Garros crown after winning four titles this season, including on clay in Prague and Madrid.
"I've won 12 matches straight on clay, but I'm still a long way from Rafa," she said in reference to Rafael Nadal's bid for an 11th men's singles crown.