Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova on mental struggles after 2016 knife attack

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Australian Open 2019: Petra Kvitova's inspiring comeback from 2016 knife attack
Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.

Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova thinks "not very many people believed" she could return to the top of the sport after she suffered multiple injuries during a knife attack in 2016.

The Czech sustained damage to ligaments and tendons in her playing left hand when fighting off an intruder.

She says she "was not confident to be alone" in the aftermath of the attack.

Kvitova, 28, beat Danielle Collins 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 on Thursday to reach the women's singles final in Melbourne.

She will become world number one for the first time if she defeats US Open champion Naomi Osaka on Saturday.

"It wasn't only physically but mentally very tough," she said of her recovery.

"It took me really a while to believe the people around me again and especially men, for sure."

Kvitova returned to tennis five months after the December 2016 attack at her home in the Czech Republic and Saturday's match will be her first Grand Slam final since winning Wimbledon in 2014.

Speaking about the period after the attack, Kvitova said: "Those three months were very, very tough.

"I really needed to be strong and not really think too negatively about it, but of course those thoughts were there, as well. Yeah, it's been a long journey.

"To be honest, I think not very many people believed that I can do that again, to stand on the court and play tennis and play on this level."

The two-time Wimbledon champion also spoke about meeting Monica Seles last summer. Seles, then the world number one, was stabbed on court by a spectator during a 1993 tournament in Hamburg and was out of the sport for more than two years.

"Actually, she was the one who wanted to meet me, so it was just great and a big honour," said Kvitova.

"I know that it affected her career a lot, especially (that) it happened on the court. So it's a bit different, but it was such a nice feeling to meet someone who kind of went through same things and thoughts and everything."

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July 2017: Petra Kvitova 'had flashbacks' after knife attack but has 'won her fight' by being at Wimbledon

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