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Kvitova relieved to make return after stabbing incident

By Eleanor Crooks

Petra Kvitova made an emotional and victorious return to tennis on the opening day of action at the French Open but world number one Angelique Kerber was knocked out.

Five months after suffering career-threatening injuries when she was stabbed by an intruder in her home, Kvitova looked sharp and eager in a 6-3 6-2 triumph over Julia Boserup.

Her parents Jiri and Pavla and brothers Jiri and Libor were in the stands on Court Philippe Chatrier, with her team decked out in matching T-shirts saying 'Courage, Belief, Pojd ('Come on' in Czech)'.

They gave loud support, with the only disappointment the usual sparse early crowd on Roland Garros' main court.

The 27-year-old, who suffered injuries to all the fingers on her dominant left hand, said on Friday she had won her biggest fight just by being able to play tennis again.

"I feel great, obviously," she said after that match. "I won for the second time, if I can say.

"It was a nice and really heart-warming welcome on Chatrier. My team was there. My family was there. Everyone who helped me through the difficult time. So it was a real pleasure to play in front of them and play how I played.

"I think I played well after six months off. I'm happy with the game, of course, but it wasn't really about the game today.

"I'm glad it's still there, still in the mind, still in the hand."

Kvitova took the first point with a forehand winner and swiftly moved into a 3-0 lead. Boserup, a 25-year-old American ranked 85, made it more competitive after that without ever threatening a comeback.

There were a few signs of Kvitova's long absence - this was her first match since November 12 - but the good far outweighed the bad.

She showed the weight of the occasion only at the end, dropping her racket to the clay and turning to her support camp with hand over mouth in disbelief.

"Yesterday I was thinking how everything will be and I couldn't really imagine," she said.

"I maybe thought that I would cry when I step on the court, but I didn't today, which actually I was happy about because normally I can control my emotion on the court, so I'm happy that I kind of did it as well this time.

"In the end, I didn't have to any more. So, yes, a few tears for after the match point."

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