Kvitova reaches first final since attack

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.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Lucie Safarova in the Aegon Classic semifinals on Saturday in Birmingham, England, to reach the first final since her playing hand was injured in a knife attack at her home.

The seventh-seeded Kvitova is in her second tournament of 2017 after being viciously attacked by a knife-wielding man on December 20 in her Czech Republic home.

This is only her second tournament since a seven-month hole was torn from her career, and it was only her sixth match - yet she reached her first grass court final since her great Wimbledon triumph of 2014.

During her pre-match press conference, Kvitova said her hand is not causing her any pain at the moment and that is the best news for her at the moment.

But despite being one of the taller players on the tour, Kvitova impressed Naomi Broady on her way past the Stockport young woman in the second round.

The first part of the match showed the young Australian very solid all her service games, hitting nearly all her first serves in, and putting Kvitova in the position of being unable to keep a return in. 'I didn't expect this in my second tournament after my comeback. A good return from Barty gave her another chance, and this time Kvitova's drop-shot attempt landed on the net, giving the Aussie the lead. She also mentioned she is in a bit of a shock as she did not expect her to make it to a final in her second tournament back.

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Barty won the Wimbledon girls title six years ago and proved a revelation in the way she used slice to blunt her famous opponent's attack before counter-attacking with heavy forehand drives.

"Obviously it's a big challenge for me tomorrow. I was very happy with my performance". "Paris was a bit weird and unusual, and I couldn't play the best over there", she said. With a serve that's just been flawless out of the gate, Kvitova is showing that she has the potential to return to the top-10 rather quickly.

The left-handed Czech dominated from the start against compatriot Safarova, who retired at 6-1, 1-0 down.

When she served for the match at 6-4, 5-3, Kvitova delivered two double faults, dropped her service game and lost her momentum. "I am happy that I am able to show good tennis here".

At 3-5 down in the final tie-break Safarova hit a drive to the baseline which Gavrilova thought was out, but her appeal to the video replay brought no images to the screen. "She's just super talented".

There are not very many natural grass court players out there.

  • Regina Holmes