PARIS, France - Two-time major champion Petra Kvitova goes into the second major of the season as the pillar of consistency on the WTA Tour, a sentence that even she might have scoffed at five years ago.
It's been two years since Kvitova stepped back on court, here at 2017 Roland Garros, to play her first match since suffering severe lacerations to her left hand after a violent attack in her home in December 2016.
Recalling that day, Kvitova said she was just happy to get through her press conference without tears. Yet since that emotional return, Kvitova has morphed into the winningest woman on tour.
No player has won more titles than Kvitova since her 2017 return, tallying eight over that span. Last year her five titles led the tour and she finished second in total match wins. This year she was the first woman to win two titles (Sydney, Stuttgart) and she goes into Roland Garros as the outright leader in match wins.
In 12 events this season, Kvitova has progressed to the quarterfinals or better 7 times, the best strike-rate on tour. To top it all off, in January she advanced to her first major final since winning 2014 Wimbledon, barely getting edged out by Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open.
Kvitova credits her consistency to the development of a Plan B. When Kvitova's power game is flowing, she is unbeatable. Her dominant run to the Australian Open final, in which she did not lose a set, led to players coining the hashtag "#PetrasVictims" on social media. But in the past, when her shots weren't landing, Kvitova could and would hit herself out of matches.
Now, the Petra of the past is gone. In its place, a more mature, thoughtful, and solution-oriented Kvitova has emerged.
"I think maybe I'm more thinking about my game than I was before probably [because] maybe I do have more experiences, I'm a little bit older, more mature, as well," Kvitova told reporters at Media Day ahead of the French Open. "So I think I'm just probably thinking a little bit more.
"When we sat with the coach after the season, we were talking [about] what we want to improve and so that's when I kind of said that I would like to improve volleys, some slices, as well, of course the movement which is kind of together everything, but kind of have a more kind of game plan.
"I'm pretty glad we were working on it and it's paying off.
"So of course the clay, it's a bit different, but still, I can do some other things, not just playing my younger Petra [game] before."
"So sometimes it's more fun, to be honest."
Last season, Kvitova went on a 13-match tear through Prague, Madrid, and into the third round of the French Open. This year, she tore through a seven-match win streak, capturing her first Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title in Stuttgart before losing to eventual champion Kiki Bertens in Madrid.
The charismatic Czech is always quick to temper expectations on clay. Despite her tour success since her comeback, Kvitova struggled last year to bring that same success at the Slams, where she excited before the Round of 16 at all four majors.
"I don't really care how Paris will end up, actually," Kvitova said. "I didn't have great results for so many Grand Slams in the past, and I already did a great result in the Australian Open, which I'm very proud of. I couldn't really imagine myself playing in the final again.
"So for me, I think it's kind of something [where] I already proved myself and I just don't have to run for something else. So whatever happens, happens."
Kvitova's immediate success at the start of the season in Melbourne signaled a turnaround at the majors. She knows she will be one to watch in Paris and backs her ability to break through at a tournament at which she has made it past the Round of 16 just once. That run came in 2012, when she lost to eventual champion Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.
"I have been in the semifinal here one year, so I'm not questioning myself if I can do well here. So just here I'm feeling good. It's important.
"And as I said, whatever happens, happens. So it's a nice Grand Slam, and we'll see."
Perspective remains the hallmark of what Kvitova calls her "second career". She went from not knowing if she would ever be able to swing a racquet again to coming within a handful of games from an Australian Open title and the World No.1 ranking two and a half years later.
"For me, it's kind of like a miracle," Kvitova said. "When I was trying to come back and play on the higher level, I couldn't really imagine being one match from being No. 1 in the world and playing for the title of the Slam.
"Of course it was kind of a surprise for me. But on the other hand, I think I produce pretty good tennis over there and hopefully I can show it again one day and play well."