When Petra Kvitova had her left hand slashed by a home invader last December, it was fortunate she didn’t lose her life. Fighting off the knife wielding attacker was an act of survival, but one that left her dominant hand with career threatening damage. Luckily, the medical doctors and physical therapists who are working with Petra have done such a great job that instead of being out at least a year and possibly more, as was initially feared by some, the 2-time Wimbledon singles winner is back six months later and a champion again in only her second event back. The Czech star won the 2017 Aegon Classic Birmingham in comeback fashion over Ashleigh Barty of Australia, 4-6 6-3 6-2. It’s Petra’s 20th WTA singles title.
Petra won this match without her A game. A lot of that had to do with Ashleigh, who was doing a great job of mixing power and touch, keeping Kvitova from getting in a sustained rhythm. Even though the 6-4 first set score appears close, Barty was in control. She was rolling through her service games like she was late for a flight. Even though Petra won the second set, the match really was won when Barty was serving at 2-all and up 40-0. Instead of winning that game to stay on serve, Ashleigh didn’t win another point in that game as Petra broke her…and Barty didn’t win another game as Petra swept the last four to close things out.
Clearly, Petra can win Wimbledon. She has already done so twice before. And there is no surface that agrees with her more than grass. If you take the US Open, Roland Garros and the Australian Open all put together, Petra has been to the quarterfinals or better a total of 3 times. Just at Wimbledon alone the 27 year old Kvitova has been to the quarterfinals or better 5 times, the semifinals or better 3 times and won the title twice. That said, she wasn’t completely sharp against Barty. Her most impressive win of the week was probably against the surging Kristina Mladenovic in the quarterfinals. However, at the end of the day, even if she wasn’t 100% of her best, she was still the one holding the trophy when the dust settled. Being one of my four current Mount Rushmore favorites (Keys, Kvitova, Sharapova and Halep) and considering what she’s had to come back from physically and emotionally after being attacked by a knife wielding assailant, this is probably the happiest I’ve been to see a winner since Madison won this event last year.
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(WC) 7 PETRA KVITOVA d. Ashleigh Barty, 4-6 6-3 6-2