Kvitova wins Aegon Classic final for 1st title since attack

Petra Kvitova Aegon Classic Birmingham

Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion whose career was nearly ended by a knife attack, reached her first semi-final since the incident seven months ago by winning her third straight-set match at Birmingham on Friday.

So well has she been playing that it has become even more significant that this tournament is a Wimbledon warm-up event, for Kivitova is already beginning to suggest she can again do well at the grass court Grand Slam starting in nine days' time.

Kvitova, 16th in the world, is looking forward to facing the 21-year-old Barty, ranked No. 77 and advancing to the biggest final of her career. But Barty gained adrenaline and self-belief from her second set success, and five games in a row from 0-1 in the final set effectively decided the outcome.

"I think it was nice to lose the first set, and that I had to fight for the second and for the third", said Kvitova.

Kvitova's career was in the balance after she was attacked last December but she has worked hard to return at the top level and, with Wimbledon the initial target for her comeback, she made quick progress to play at the French Open.

Nevertheless, Petra was focused in game 9, bringing the set home with a comfortable hold, forcing the decider with the momentum on her side.

That was all she could do, despite having a 4-0 lead in game 5 that could send her in front.

A deep victor down the line from Barty saved it, and an ace gave her a first set point. "I wish I could have more - I won't be sad if it is in a couple of weeks (at Wimbledon) but there is still a lot of work to be done", she said in her on-court interview. The match turned when Barty broke at 2-2 in the second set after the Spaniard had looked comfortable.

Kvitova is set to take on Australian Ashleigh Barty in the finals of the Aegon Classic, who herself has a very interesting story leading up to this match.

"It's tough to play against a friend like Lucie", Kvitova said.

Barty, who won her first WTA singles title in Malaysia earlier this year, was in no mood to surrender however, breaking back for 2-2, only for Kvitova to respond in kind and then run away with the match.

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. So I think that's important. Of course I'm disappointed because I thought, you know, I could do the same as the previous matches and get a victory.

"I didn't play [for] six months, and I'm just here to play as many matches as I can". From my first hits on the grass I felt great, it was encouraging to get into the grass season.

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