WATCH: Kvitova took a narrow defeat to Rebecca Sramkova at home in Prague on Monday.

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Petra Kvitova’s Czech homecoming ended in defeat on Monday when the top seed bowed out to Rebecca Sramkova, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4, in the first round of the Livesport Prague Open.

Kvitova hadn’t played in Prague since winning a clay-court event staged there in 2018. Debuting the capital’s new hard-court tournament, she struggled to serve out the opening set and ultimately bowed out in three after battling the big-serving Slovak for two hours and 36 minutes on Centre Court.

Downbeat after the loss, the two-time Wimbledon champion nonetheless took heart from being back in front of her home fans.

“It was a full crowd and an amazing atmosphere out there today,” she said in her post-match press. “They were really cheering for me and even spelled out my name, which made me quite emotional, to be honest. I haven’t had this sort of thing for a long time, so it was beautiful to be back in front of a Czech crowd. I’m pretty sad I couldn’t bring the win today, but on the other hand, it was a good one.”

The match was Kvitova’s first since suffering a first-round exit at Wimbledon to Sloane Stephens, and was still in the midst of reacclimatizing to concrete ahead of her Prague return.

“She served very, very well,” she said of Sramkova. “Even her second serve was quite tough for me to return, with the big kick. I definitely had my opportunities in the first set but couldn’t serve it out, and I think that took a lot of energy from me for the rest of the match.”

At 24 years old, Sramkova plays a big game that took her just short of a Top 100 debut in 2017. Now ranked No. 226, she held firm even as her higher-ranked opponent broke her twice at the end of the match to score her first win over a Top 20 player.

For Kvitova, who took a medical time out to address tightness in her hip and hamstring, it’s her worst loss by ranking since a then-No. 934 Stephens defeated her in Canada four years ago.

“I kept fighting, but it wasn’t enough, and I really wanted to win today,” Kvitova said. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t in front of my home crowd, but they were still amazing, so I’m glad I could play here.”

Looking ahead, the world No. 12 has decidedly mixed feelings ahead of her scheduled return to the Olympic Games. Eager to replicate the form that helped her win a bronze medal in 2016, Kvitova is admittedly ambivalent about the lockdown that will prevent fans from creating an appropriately epic ambiance.

“I’m excited, but on the other hand I know it’ll be tough with no spectators. I think I’m more connected when there’s spectators. In this case, it will be a bit difficult, but of course, it’s still the Olympics, so I’m very excited and looking forward to them.”

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Putintseva is the top seed in Budapest, where she eased past Ekaterine Gorgodze in straight sets (Getty Images).

Putintseva is the top seed in Budapest, where she eased past Ekaterine Gorgodze in straight sets (Getty Images).

Putintseva, Konjuh book rematch in Budapest

Yulia Putintseva had fewer troubles as the top seed at the Hungarian Grand Prix, dismissing Ekaterine Gorgodze, 6-2, 6-4, on clay to win her opening round.

The Kazakh will next face Ana Konjuh for the second time in three months, having lost to her Croatian rival in Belgrade ahead of Roland Garros.

A three-time major quarterfinalist (twice in Paris, once in New York), Putintseva has struggled to find her typically disruptive form after numerous bumps in her 2021 season. From dealing with mouse troubles in Melbourne quarantine to kidney stone surgery that led her to miss the Middle East swing, the 26-year-old has won back-to-back matches just twice since reaching the third round of the Australian Open, and both times included a retirement.

Still, she broke Gorgodze five times to edge over the finish line, where Konjuh awaits after the former US Open quarterfinalist rallied from a set down to defeat Tereza Mrdez, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Konjuh has been on the upswing since multiple elbow surgeries halted her rise up the WTA rankings, and went on to reach her first final in four years after defeating Putintseva at the Belgrade Open. Though she had to retire in the second set against Paula Badosa, she qualified for her first Wimbledon main draw since 2018 and a strong run in Bedapest could bring her back into the Top 100.