A clas­sic re­turn for Kvi­tiova

Czech beats Barty af­ter hand in­jury

The National - News - Sport - - LEADING OFF -

Kvitova was play­ing only her sec­ond tour­na­ment and sev­enth match since she was at­tacked in De­cem­ber

Two-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion Pe­tra Kvitova beat un­seeded Ash­leigh Barty 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 yes­ter­day in the Ae­gon Clas­sic fi­nal to win her first ti­tle since her play­ing hand was in­jured in a knife at­tack at her home.

Kvitova was play­ing only her sec­ond tour­na­ment and sev­enth match since she was at­tacked in De­cem­ber.

“It’s hard to say any­thing but I think I’ve been through a very dif­fi­cult time in my life, and it wasn’t about the ten­nis, but about com­ing back healthy and alive and mov­ing my fin­gers prop­erly and ev­ery­thing like that,” Kvitova said. “This is some­thing clearly spe­cial. It’s some bonus to have in my life and my ca­reer and ev­ery­thing.”

It was the Czech leftie’s first grass-court fi­nal since her tri­umph at 2014 Wim­ble­don and her 20th ca­reer ti­tle in her 27th fi­nal.

Barty won her first ca­reer ti­tle in March in Kuala Lumpur, and be­came the first Aus­tralian fi­nal­ist here in 25 years.

While her serv­ing was in­con­sis­tent – 13 aces and seven dou­ble faults against Barty – Kvitova’s ground strokes looked as pen­e­trat­ing and as hard-toread as ever. The Czech even saw the sil­ver lin­ing in los­ing the opener.

“It was nice to lose the first set, and that I had to fight for the sec­ond and for the third,” Kvitova said. “I think (it) will give me some ex­tra con­fi­dence that I am still able to fight.”

Barty won her first 11 points on serve, and con­ceded only one point in her first four ser­vice games. She broke Kvitova’s serve at the sec­ond at­tempt, took the first set and put Kvitova un­der pres­sure in the open­ing game of the sec­ond. Kvitova clung on and the match changed course. She came up with two fine re­turns to break serve, be­gan to play more freely and held for 3-0 and 4-1.

By now Kvitova was strik­ing her ground strokes harder, scor­ing bril­liantly with her in­side-out fore­hand, and she closed out the sec­ond set with two aces in three points.

Kvitova got an early break but Barty broke back in a see-saw fi­nal set. Kvitova fin­ished with a bat­tery of at­tacks, which steam­rollered 17 of the last 18 points, and won with an ace.

“I could not have imag­ined a bet­ter come­back than I am hav­ing now,” Kvitova said.

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