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Kvitova wins Aegon Classic final for 1st title since attack

Kvitova wins Aegon Classic final for 1st title since attack

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

She looked in impressive shape after her absence from the sport following a hand injury caused by a knife attack during an attempted robbery at her home in December.

She had made her return at the French Open earlier this month and reached the second round, but that was mostly to get the fuss out of the way so that she could concentrate on her favourite part of the season.

It is only Kvitova's second tournament since the seven-month hole which was torn from her career, and this was only her sixth match, yet she has reached her first grass court final since her 2014 Wimbledon triumph.

Her win had a hint of inevitability from the start, for she had prevailed in all nine previous encounters against Safarova, a former world No. 5. "We didn't know if I would play again let alone win a trophy so this is an extra special moment".

Kvitova continues to be the talk of the tournament given that shes played just six matches in 2017 and all five of her victories have come in straight sets. "She's such an inspiration", Barty, ranked No. 77, said afterward.

"I think I couldn't have imagined a better comeback, for sure".

Lewis Hamilton posts flawless lap to claim pole in Azerbaijan
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen completed the top five, bumped down by the Ferraris late on, but still only 0.038secs off Vettel. He added: "That final pole victor lap was one of the most exciting and satisfying I've had all year.


Barty burned me in the semifinals and has a chance to do it again.

Petra Kvitova said she just went to Birmingham to have some coffee and play some matches. And when I didn't play that many matches, it's always taking me more energy, I think. I will not be sad if it's in a couple of weeks, but it's still a lot of work to do.

Barty said, after the final: "I think it was a pretty high quality match; we both started well and I served particularly well in that first set and I think it gave me the upper hand". She and Casey Dellacqua won their second Aegon Classic Birmingham title (they also won in 2013) with a 6-1 2-6 10-8 win over Hao-Ching Chan (TPE) and Shaui Zhang (CHN).

It's pretty remarkable how well Kvitova's recovered, and how she's managed to keep her focus so positive despite the terrible injury she suffered.

Kvitova surged to a 5-1 lead before Barty rallied, breaking serve and then holding to close the gap to 5-3.

But American Coco Vandeweghe, who had looked in such strong form beating Johanna Konta in the previous round, had to retire with an ankle injury in her quarter-final against Spain's Garbine Muguruza. I'm not really seeing myself as one of them who can win.


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