I already won two years ago - Kvitova upbeat after Aus Open fairytale falls short
Petra Kvitova said she "already won two years ago" as the victim of a knife attack in 2016 put things into perspective following her defeat to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final.
Kvitova's world was turned upside down in 2016 after a terrifying home invasion, which left the two-time Wimbledon champion's future in doubt due to the gruesome injuries sustained to her playing hand.
But the Czech star - who was competing again five months after the attack at the 2017 French Open - made it back to a grand slam decider for the first time in five years at the Australian Open this week.
And while the 28-year-old was denied a fairytale victory after Saturday's 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4 loss, she was upbeat post-match at Melbourne Park.
Asked if she was proud of her journey back to the top, Kvitova - who saved three championship points in the second set - told reporters with a smile: "I'm not proud at all, right?
"No, definitely I am, for sure. It will be very bad if I'm not! As I said, it's hurting a lot today. 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.
"I've been through many, many things, not really great ones. As I said on the court, I didn't know if I was going to hold the racquet again. I'm holding it, so that's good. [There are] 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, who won five WTA titles in 2018, added: "Hopefully the downs will be less than the ups. I think I already did much better than the last year. It's just the first month of the year, so it's great."
Kvitova will become the new world number two on Monday, capping an incredible and courageous rise after there were genuine doubts whether she would return following the trauma of almost three years ago.
"I probably didn't really put kind of these high goals in my mind. I never really put kind of this ranking-wise to my head," Kvitova said when asked if she thought she would make it back to this level.
"I wanted to be back on my greatest level probably as I played before. I knew it will be very, very difficult because my hand, it's not 100 per cent , and never will be. It's just how it is. I'm just trying to take maximum from the minimum.
"I feel great. I'm playing great tennis. I don't think that I could really imagine the time to be kind of this player again."