Kvitova reaches first final since attack

Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova returns a ball to France's Kristina Mladenovic on day five of the Birmingham Classic tennis tournament at Edgbaston Priory Birmingham England Friday

Just seven months after being stabbed on her playing hand, two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has already reached her first final in just her second tournament since making her return. "I couldn't have imagined a better comeback than I am having now".

Kvitova will next play her fellow Czech Lucie Safarova, who survived three match points against Daria Gavrilova of Australia to win 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (5) in an epic third-set tiebreak.

When she served for the match at 6-4, 5-3, Kvitova delivered two double faults, dropped her service game and lost her momentum. Barty was off to a flawless start, dropping just 1 point in the first 4 service games, and she scored a break in the 3rd game to open up a 5-3 lead.

From the moment she broke serve for 3-2 and consolidated for 4-2 in the second set, it was clear Barty had a formula which had a good chance of working. So it's so nice to have her back out on the court. "I just believed that I could pull it out and win it", she added. I was just thinking about my game, and yeah, I'm sorry for her that she's unhealthy, but I hope she will be better soon.

A dream final for to of the comeback queens on the tour beckons as Petra Kvitova will face Ashleigh Barty for the Aegon Classic title.

From the start Kvitova's serving was nearly always rock solid, finding the lines and the angles but with Safarova struggling to push off a heavily strapped leg there would have always been one victor.

Standing between former world No. 2 Muguruza and a spot in her first final since winning her only Grand Slam title at the 2016 French Open will be Australian Ashleigh Barty, the victor after Camila Giorgi of Italy was forced to retire trailing 5-2 in the first set.

ASHLEIGH Barty will ride a huge wave of confidence on Sunday night (AEST) when she attempts to land her second clean sweep of an increasingly memorable comeback. "I mean not just from my perspective, but I think from everyone, I think it's incredible to have her back on the tour, and to be successful straightaway is just phenomenal". Of course I'm disappointed because I thought, you know, I could do the same as the previous matches and get a victory.

"I came to play, to improve my game, I didn't really have any expectation". Barty described her final against Kvitova as a big challenge but said it would be good for her. She's won Wimbledon a couple of times and is awesome on grass court as well.

Mladenovic, no mean grass court player herself, then held serve twice, advanced to a 3-1 lead in the tie-break, and looked the more confident of the two.

Remarkably, she's playing only her second tournament and only her sixth match since she was attacked in December.


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