Petra Kvitova joins Belinda Bencic, Donna Vekic and Maria Sharapova in Linz

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Petra Kvitova joins Belinda Bencic, Donna Vekic and Maria Sharapova in Linz

The Linz Open has been in the WTA calendar for more than three decades, with everything starting in 1987. Jana Novotna, Mary Pierce, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova are among the most notable champions in Austria, with another strong edition coming between October 14-20.

Belinda Bencic, Anastasija Sevastova, Anett Kontaveit, Donna Vekic, Julia Goerges and Maria Sakkari should fight for the title, with the organizers managing to sign a former champion Maria Sharapova as well. Besides them, they have confirmed another former winner Petra Kvitova who should lead the draw in Linz as the only player from the top-10.

The Czech had competed four times at this event in the past, at the age of 18 in 2008 when she qualified for the main draw and a year later when Yanina Wickmayer toppled her in the final. Two years later, Petra went all the way to lift the trophy, ousting Dominika Cibulkova in the title match and never returning to Linz again until this year.

World no. 7 had a great first half of the season before starting to struggle with a left forearm injury that reduced her pace after May. Petra won the title in Sydney over Ashleigh Barty and reached the final at the Australian Open, losing to Naomi Osaka in three tight sets before another final in Dubai where Belinda Bencic proved too strong for the Czech.

Barty halted Kvitova in the quarter-final in Miami and the Czech returned stronger in Stuttgart, winning the title and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clay season. That didn't happen, though, since that arm started to bother her more and more, forcing Petra to skip Roland Garros and not to play at her best at Wimbledon where she lost in the fourth round.

The Czech had to withdraw from Toronto and lost early in Cincinnati and the US Open, hoping for a better run in the remaining events of the season and to secure the spot at the WTA Finals.