By Ros Satar, in Birmingham
- Petra Kvitova [WC/7] def. Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2
- Puts herself firmly in the one-to-watch category for Wimbledon
BIRMINGHAM, UK – Petra Kvitova’s dream comeback continues as she wins the Aegon Classic in just her second tournament back.
Petra Kvitova [WC/7] def. Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2
While it would have been a stunningly happy ending for either party, it was certainly not a fait accompli for Petra Kvitova at the start of the first set. Not getting a first serve in at all in the first game, and barely throughout the first set, it cam as little surprise that the gritty Aussie Ashleigh Barty.
Pushing Kvitova, she got her break on the second try, and always looked to be the aggressor in the first set, serving consistently while Kvitova struggled to find her range and her timing.
It started to improve towards the end of the set, with Kvitova getting her first sniff of break point chances before Barty switched things up to take the lead on her first set point.
The second set though was a different story as Kvitova swiftly raced into a 5-1 lead, faltering just once as she went to serve for the set, before making certain of the re-emergence of ‘P3tra, with a 3’ and taking it into a decider.
It was another quick start for the Czech, breaking Barty at the start of the third set, but at 2-2, there was a flurry from the Aussie to break back. This time there was no jitters from Kvitova, who broke straight back again, and once more before serving out the match to love.
Since losing her first grass court final in 2011 (to Marion Bartoli), Kvitova is unbeaten in grass court finals now, including of course two Wimbledon titles. Obviously nothing can compare to a slam but this was also very sweet.
She told reporters: “I think I’ve been through a very difficult time in my life, and it wasn’t about the tennis, but about to come back healthy and alive and move my fingers properly and everything like that.
“And this is something clearly special. It’s some bonus to have in my life and my career and everything. And that’s what I fight that hard to come back to play tennis. And I always said that I’m not here just to play tennis. I’m here to play my best and to win trophies, like today. So I have to say I’m kind of proud of myself that I did it today.”
Barty, who also made the doubles final at the Aegon Classic, was in her biggest singles final to date, and registered the best win rankings-wise of her career after beating Garbiñe Muguruza in the semi-final.
Like Kvitova, having taken time off the tour, hot on the heels of Slam doubles success with Casey Dellacqua, she took to cricket as an all-rounder, and told press that it had been important to have that mental refresh before returning to the tour, although her come-back hit a snag in the autumn of 2016 with a right arm injury.
Barty said, after the final: “I think it was a pretty high quality match; we both started well and I served particularly well in that first set and I think it gave me the upper hand. But Petra came out in the second and put me on the back foot pretty early.
“I think the 2-2 game in the third was a pretty big one but from my point of view I don’t think I did too much wrong and, as I said, she put me on the back foot where I wasn’t in much control.
“It’s so amazing to have Petra back on the court. She’s such an inspiration. She’s always been a great champion but I think we appreciate that more now that she’s back playing week-in and week-out. Hopefully she is able to stay healthy and doesn’t have any more issues and I hope she has a really successful season.
“I think we have to be very happy with where the game is at. I’ve played some quality tennis and lost to only a couple of good players. So I’m really excited and I can’t wait to get to Wimbledon.”
Kvitova is currently in the Eastbourne draw as the wild-carded No. 13 seed.
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