Nothing but winners in Kvitova-Venus U.S. Open showdown: DiManno

NEW YORK—This is a nation of knives as well as guns.

A total of 1,490 murders committed by knives or cutting instruments in 2013 — FBI stats and the last year I could find.

Of 124,149 aggravated assaults, 19.1 per cent involved blades.

Violence cuts close to the heart in America.

They may not live in perpetual fear — isn’t their nature — but everybody feels the presence of a potential threat, the loner gone berserk, the aggrieved party, the drug-zonked thug.

Even a privileged tennis crowd.

So there would be, I think, a particular empathy for Petra Kvitova, a gutsy dame who fought back against a home intruder, repelled him, but suffered severe wounds in the encounter: deep lacerations to five fingers, tendons mangled in three of them, followed by nearly five hours of surgery.

That knife was held to her throat.

Her left hand shredded — tennis business hand for a southpaw player.

Her fingers held in protective splints for eight weeks afterwards.

The attack, at her apartment in Protstejov, Czech Republic, was only this past December. Didn’t touch a racquet until March.

So Kvitova was probably wrong when she predicted, the other night, that she’d be up against two opponents in her quarter-final match at the U.S. Open: Venus Williams, the sentimental favourite, and the Arthur Ashe Stadium audience.

It wasn’t that way at all. This was a commendably neutral sold-out house, equally enthralled, savant in their appreciation of the superb tennis on display, buck-shot spray of double faults and all. At least until the third-set crunch when they remembered where they were.