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Former champion Petra Kvitova returns from injury in time for Rogers Cup

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MONTREAL - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is back from injury and looking forward to getting on the court at this year's Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Forced to deal with a hamstring injury that has bothered her for months, Kvitova is on the mend and excited to play in the weeklong Canadian Open, a tournament she won in 2012.

Her first match, which will likely take place on Tuesday, will be her first competitive tennis match since beating Canada's Eugenie Bouchard in the Wimbledon final on July 5. Last week, Kvitova withdrew from the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., due to the injury.

The tournament in Montreal will also be Kvitova's first of the year on a hard court.

"It took some time to be at 100 per cent, to be ready for these matches," said Kvitova, who was on hand at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal on Friday for the official tournament draw. "That's why I withdrew from Stanford, and it's much better now and I'm ready. I'm really looking forward to my first match."

Kvitova (ranked No. 3 in the Women's Tennis Association) earned a bye for the first round for being a top-8 seeded player. She won't know her second-round opponent until Monday night, and will face the winner of a first-round match between the Australian Casey Dellacqua (No. 31) and Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens (No. 47).

"It's a tough draw," said Kvitova. "It's a big tournament, and everyone is playing. I really don't see an easy opponent."

But the 24 year old could easily sneak her way into the quarter-final unchallenged. Kvitova will not have to face another top-10 player for at least the first three rounds. What's more, Kvitova will avoid the half of the draw featuring top-seed Serena Williams, sixth-ranked Maria Sharapova, and seventh-ranked Bouchard.

Montreal's Bouchard, who also received a first-round bye, will face the winner of a first-round match between the Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic (No. 55) and a qualifier player yet to be named.

Bouchard's bracket is slightly less favourable than Kvitova's. The 20 year old could meet 11th-ranked Caroline Wozniacki as early as the third round of the $2.4 million tournament. A victory there would likely mean a quarter-final showdown between Bouchard and Williams.

Two other Canadians were also handed difficult assignments ahead of the first round.

Aleksandra Wozniak (No. 103), from Blainville, Que., will face 22nd-ranked Sloane Stephens in a match that is expected to take place on Monday.

Teenager Francoise Abanda (No. 214), from Montreal, a wild card entry, will take on the 12th-ranked Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova in the first round. The winner will face seventh-seeded Jelena Jankovic.

"Not easy for Abanda and Wozniak," said Eugene Lapierre, tournament director for the Rogers Cup. "We might have wanted to see (Abanda) play against lower-ranked opposition, but in a tournament of this calibre, all the players are very strong. For a young 17-year-old, it will be a great experience."

The Rogers Cup, as part of the seven-week North American summer tennis season, officially gets underway on Monday with the first-round matches. The final goes Sunday, Aug. 10.

Last year, Williams defeated the Romanian Sorana Cirstea in straight sets in the final. The year before, Kvitova took Canada's top tennis prize.

"I love Canada — Montreal and Toronto. I always have good memories in these two cities," said Kvitova. "I have beautiful memories from two years ago when I won here. I always play well here, so I'm hoping it will be the same.

"The people are great, the crowd is always supporting us. They're always cheering for us. It's nice to see people interested in tennis."

Notes: Li Na (No. 2) and Simona Halep (No. 3) will not be attending the tournament. … Tennis Canada's Lapierre said the tournament would likely beat attendance records. … Kvitova defeated Bouchard in the second round of last year's Rogers Cup.

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