The Czech has come a very long way since her hand injury in 2016. (AP)

Petra Kvitova is a veteran through and through, and the two-time Grand Slam champion knows how to handle a big stage. But when she beat Ashleigh Barty for a place in the Australian Open semifinals, Kvitova shed some happy tears in acknowledging just how far she's come. 

"Actually, it was kind of a mix of emotions of everything I've been through," Kvitova said. "Sometimes I'm not really recognizing anything from the past. But when Jim [Courier] asked that, it wasn't really easy for me to kind of see myself being in a semifinal after everything. I always wanted to come back and play on the highest level I can, compete with the best, play the Grand Slams, actually be very deep in the Grand Slam, which is happening.

"It just took me a bit to the tears, but it was happy tears, for sure."

During the 2016 offseason, the 28-year-old suffered severe left hand lacerations in a home burglary and wasn't sure if she'd ever hold a racquet again. She returned to the tour in 2017, even winning a title in Birmingham. But she wasn't quite the same and the fact is, her dominant hand may never be 100 percent again.

Still, the former world No. 2  continued to fight her way back toward the top and in 2018, she piled together five title wins (St. Petersburg, Doha, Prague, Madrid and Birmingham) and finished at No. 7. 

The Czech was still lacking Grand Slam success, and having won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, losing early at majors was uncharacteristic. With a 6-1, 6-4 win over local hero Barty on Tuesday, Kvitova is into her first major semifinal since 2014 and first in Melbourne since 2012.


Can't. Stop. Smiling ????

A post shared by Petra Kvitova (@petra.kvitova) on

She'll play unseeded American Danielle Collins for a spot in the final. 

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