In just her second tournament since injuring her left hand during a home invasion, Petra Kvitova roared back from a set down to defeat Ashleigh Barty, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win her first title of the year at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.
“I’m very, very happy, of course,” she said in her post-match press conference. “I didn’t expect this in my second tournament of my comeback. So yeah, I think it’s kind of a fairytale.”
Attacked in her home during the off-season, Kvitova made a triumphant comeback earlier than expected at Roland Garros, where she won her first match since finishing the 2016 season with the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai title.
“I was nervous It wasn’t the normal nerves as I had before. It’s my first final after such a long time, and it was a bit difficult to handle. I struggled a lot. It’s nice when you win and you’re playing well, but most of the times the best days are when you win even if you are not playing well. So I’m happy that I was able to win it anyway.”
“Maybe it will sound weird, but I think it was nice to lose the first set, that I had to fight for the second and for the third. I think will give me some extra confidence that I am still able to fight, even if I lose the first set. I know I can still win long matches, so I think that’s important, as well.”
“I’ve been through a very difficult time in my life, and it wasn’t about the tennis, but about being able to come back healthy and alive, moving my fingers properly and everything like that. This is something clearly special. It’s some bonus to have my life and my career and everything.
“This is what I fought so hard to come back and play tennis for. I always said that I’m not here just to play tennis; I’m here to play my best and to win trophies, like today. So I have to say I’m kind of proud of myself that I did it today.”
No.7 seed Petra Kvitova moved into the final at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham for the first time in her career on Saturday, as compatriot Lucie Safarova was forced to retire with a lingering right leg injury in the semifinals with Kvitova leading 6-1, 1-0.
In just her second tournament back following a hand injury suffered in a home invasion in December, Kvitova returns to a WTA final for the first time since winning the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in November.
“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,” Kvitova said. “I think she had a great run here for sure. I’m happy that I’m in the final, but the way I am going is a bit weird. The hand is good, which is the best news which I can have, and I am not feeling any pain, and that’s the best news.”
“I couldn’t have imagined to have a better comeback than I am having now. You know, Paris was a bit weird and strange, and I couldn’t play the best over there. I am happy that I am able to show good tennis here. I played four matches already, so it’s a good record and good preparation for the final. I think that my game should be same as every other day, to play fast and aggressive and to show my serve again, and I hope it will help me again.”
The Petra Kvitova Comeback Train is picking up speed at the Aegon Classic. Playing just her second tournament of 2017, the Czech star outpaced Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4, 7-6(5) to reach the final four in Birmingham.
“It was close,” she said during her on-court interview. “The second set was very close. I’m happy how I managed to win it, but it was really tight. Kristina played better than the start and that made it difficult to hold serve and play well.”
Kvitova and Mladenovic exchanged breaks to start, and the two-time Wimbledon winner took control from there, dropping just three points behind her first serve to clinch the opening set.
“Both of us play really fast on this surface. The grass suits her game as well, so it was about a few points here in there, one or two key breaks in the match.”
In control of the second, Kvitova had the No.5 seed on the ropes when Mladenovic turned things up a notch to break back and get within a game of a decider.
“I didn’t feel nervous, but maybe my body was a bit tired.” Kvitova said in her post-match press conference. “But I felt like the wind came stronger and I couldn’t hold my serve and I wasn’t able to really hit it perfectly as before. I made two double faults, and it’s difficult to play on grass when you have that in the mind. So I was glad that I was able to make it for 6-6, and then in the tiebreak you have to really play every point and just wait how everything is going, which a little lucky in the end. So yeah, it was on my side.”
Kvitova held on to force a tiebreak, clinching victory off a letcord return winner after one hour and 43 minutes on court.
“It was a mix of emotion because the match point was lucky. So I was happy, but on the other side I was like, I’m sorry. Like overall I’m happy that I won, for sure. I mean Kiki has great runs this year. She’s very highly ranked. For me it’s the second tournament of my comeback it’s a good match playing on the grass. So overall I’m very happy with my performance.”
In all, it was an aggressive display from both players, but Kvitova got the upper hand with nine aces and 27 winners to 28 unforced errors – against 13 winners and 21 errors from Mladenovic.
21.06.2017 – Birmingham
No.7 seed Petra Kvitova enjoyed a smooth passage into the second round of the Aegon Classic with a 6-2, 6-3 win over compatriot Tereza Smitkova. The World No.167 had only snuck into the main draw as a Lucky Loser, having lost in three sets to another Czech player, Marketa Vondrousova, in the final round of qualifying. However, Smitkova has shown her class on grass in the past, most notably in reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon as a qualifier in 2014. In fact, it was the 22-year-old who garnered the first break point chance of the match – though it was swiftly saved by Kvitova with a clever dropshot.
Smitkova showcased a solid power game in the first set, but her opponent is one of the WTA Tour’s elite exponents of that style. The 27-year-old is playing just her second tournament of 2017 – and revealed at Roland Garros that she still has no sensation in two of the fingers of her left hand following injuries incurred in a December home invasion. Nonetheless, her serve and forehand – the bedrocks of her game – were in fine fettle as she landed 73% of her first serves in the opener, and won 77% of those points.
The 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion moved through the gears in the second set, displaying a greater variety of angles to go with her power than Smitkova as she calmly sped out to a 3-1 lead. If anything, Kvitova’s serve was clicking even more as she racked up six aces to go with a host of unreturnable deliveries, too: as in the first set, she faced just one break point, this time saving it with a forehand down the line.
Smitkova had also lost to her senior compatriot in her only WTA Tour quarterfinal, in Shenzhen in 2015. Though she battled hard in today’s closing stages, saving three match points as she served to stay in the match, she found no answer to on return in the next game as Kvitova booked a second-round meeting with local wildcard Naomi Broady.
Three-time New Haven champion Petra Kvitova will return to the Connecticut Open this summer as she continues her comeback from career-threatening injury, the tournament announced today.
“I’m so excited to be heading back to the Connecticut Open this summer,” Kvitova said. “Now that I’ve been given the green light by my doctor I can finally plan my schedule so it’s great to start by confirming one of my favorite tournaments of the year.
“I always look forward to being back in New Haven but it will be extra special this year after all the support I have received from the amazing fans there.”
The Czech lifted the New Haven title in 2012, 2014 and 2015, and holds an impressive 19-3 win-loss record there.
The two-time Wimbledon champion is officially back in action after an emotional return at Roland Garros last week. Kvitova suffered severe lacerations to her left hand after an attack by a home intruder in December 2016, a potentially career-threatening injury. But the Czech World No.16 has defied medical odds by coming back to tennis a month earlier than predicted and beat American Julia Boserup 6-3 6-2 in the first match at Roland Garros.
Now back to full health, Kvitova is set to continue her comeback at the Connecticut Open, the first WTA tournament to secure her signature.
“Petra has shown immense courage and determination to get back on the court and her story has captured the hearts of the global tennis family but also those outside tennis,” said Anne Worcester, Connecticut Open tournament director.
“Everyone here at the Connecticut Open is delighted to have Petra coming back this summer and to be the first tournament in line means a great deal to us. I know our fans will be more eager than ever to see this inspirational champion in action and her addition to the field makes our celebration of 20 years of women’s tennis in New Haven even more special.”