Petra Kvitova wins Aegon Classic six months after knife attack

Just six months after suffering career-threatening injuries to her left, racket-wielding hand, Petra Kvitova was today able to use it to lift the Aegon Classic trophy after beating Ashleigh Barty 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in Birmingham.

The ever smiling Czech was playing in only her second tournament since she was stabbed by an intruder at her home in December and won a round on her return to action at the French Open. Here in Birmingham she put together performances that will make her one of the favourites to win Wimbledon – even if she is trying to keep under the radar.

Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon singles title in 2011 and 2014, admitted after the final that she did start to get emotional as she served for the title as the enormity of what she had was about to achieve started to hit home. Physically she is ready for the Aegon International in Eastbourne before the Championships arrive and now, emotionally, Kvitova also feels in a much better shape. She explained: “This is an amazing week of my life and I am very, very happy. I didn’t expect this in my second tournament after my comeback. So I think it’s kind of a fairy-tale.

“I think the worst (time) was in Paris when I really couldn’t put these bad thoughts away. I would have to say through this week I was much better. Actually, I got a little bit emotional the last service game in the match. But it was just for a while and I am happy that it came because it means a lot that I’m still able to play well after that. And I think mentally I am getting better every week.

“I have been through a very difficult time in my life, and it wasn’t about the tennis, but about coming back healthy and alive and being able to move my fingers properly and everything like that. And this is something clearly special. It’s some bonus to have in my life and my career and everything. And that’s what I fight that hard to come back to play tennis. And 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. Wimbledon is the priority now and I had the best preparation so far.”

Kvitova first picked up a racquet again in March, 12 weeks after the attack and her form is truly remarkable with the only doubt over her Wimbledon challenge whether she is ready, physically, to win seven matches over a two week stretch at the Championships. There was a point in today’s final when it looked as if Barty was the stronger player, however, Kvitova then upped her game and dominated the final set with her big ground strokes. Barty said:” She just got better and deserved to win. It is great to have her back on the tour – we missed you Petra!”

Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova continued her amazing run of success on grass this season with a third title on the surface, winning the Aegon Trophy at Ilkley beating Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5,7-6. She arrived in Britain having won a grass title at Fukuoka in Japan and won Surbiton, beating Britain’s Heather Watson in the final. This was followed by a semi-final loss to Johanna Konta, the World No7, in Nottingham and the confidence generated helped Rybarikova emerge victorious in Yorkshire.

The men’s title in Ilkley went to Marton Fucsovics of Hungary who is ranked No136 in the World and took just 69 minutes to end qualifier Alex Bolt’s impressive run 6-1,6-4. Bolt came into the event as the World No438 but will rise up the ladder after his good week.

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