Kvitova reaches 1st final since attack

Petra Kvitova clinched her first title in just her second tournament since returning from a career-threatening hand injury, defeating Australia's Ashleigh Barty 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in today's Birmingham final.

Petra Kvitova continued her remarkable recovery by taking the WTA Birmingham title, beating Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2 in ideal preparation for Wimbledon.

This is Kvitova's first grass-court final since her triumph at 2014 Wimbledon, though this significant achievement was tinged with anti-climax as Safarova quit with a right thigh strain after only eight games.

The 27-year-old fired down 13 aces and 35 winners as she comprehensively overpowered Barty in the second and final sets with the Australian unable to respond.

Victor of the Kuala Lumpur title in March, Barty could crack the top 50 - only 18 months after returning to tennis from cricket - by the end of Wimbledon.

This was the 20th title of Kvitova's career but one of her more memorable. And I said, you think we are not playing many times together, like even on the grass?

Kvitova's victory will see her head to Wimbledon full of confidence and one of a number of favourites for the women's singles title. And I just started to laugh and she was like, what's happening?

Remarkably, she's playing only her second tournament and only her sixth match since she was attacked in December. "This is what I fought so hard to come back and play tennis for". "I didn't expect this in my second tournament of my comeback".

On a good day for former Wimbledon champions - Roger Federer thrashed Alexander Zverev to take the Halle Open for the ninth time - Kvitova displayed the same mental toughness which has helped her physical recovery.

Kvitova seized control of the decider as she broke immediately then pressured the Barty serve again only for the momentum to swing again as Barty broke back to level at 2-2.

Kvitova did not drop a set en route to the final, beating another comeback player in Barty who left the sport for two years to pursue cricket before returning to tennis. "So it's going to be a good battle for me", WTA's official website quoted Barty as saying. "So yeah, I think it's kind of a fairytale..." She's won Wimbledon a couple of times and is incredible on grass court as well. "I like slicing it around on the grass, and I didn't do much wrong".

Barty started off the first set serving incredibly well as Kvitova struggled to find her range early.

"The hand is good which is the best news I could have, and I am not feeling any pain - and that's the best news", she repeated. Hopefully she is able to stay healthy and doesn't have any more issues and I hope she has a really successful season.

  • Julie Sanders